The Council of Economic Advisors issued a brief to the White House detailing how broadband access helps Americans cross the digital divide. The digital divide is an economic and social inequality referring to the gap between demographics and regions that have access to modern information and communications technology. Presently broadband access is primarily confined to large, urban areas, leaving rural Americans on the wrong side of the digital divide.
Bridging the digital divide means better access to educational tools, better healthcare, enhanced civic participation, and increasing the workforce. The labor pool for a rural community can grow significantly in two ways; rural citizens gain access to jobs they never had before, and people from other places can collaborate remotely with the rural residents online. The discrepancy between those who are online and those who are not is overwhelming. The latter cannot compete in the modern economy. Despite being considered one of the most advanced countries in the world by digital use, spending, and employment, the United States has significant room for improvement.
According to US Telecom, broadband enables at least 10 million new jobs in America alone. An often forgotten segment of the population, married women, saw an increase of 4.1% in their participation in the labor force with the introduction of broadband. Everyone benefits from broadband infrastructure, from individuals seeking job opportunities to nations building more self-sufficient communities.
The World Bank, seeing the impact of broadband on much of the world, has targeted broadband access as a tool for improving economics in the Middle East and North Africa. President Trump and the US should have the same goal in mind when it comes to infrastructure plans. We simply cannot be our greatest selves with 15% of our country isolated from the digital world.