New data released today by The Brookings Institution.
For many Americans, daily life orbits around a high-speed Internet connection. Workers and students go online to communicate and learn. Families stay in touch through live video feeds. Job seekers often need an electronic resume and an email address for applications. Smartphones put maps, social networks, and video streams in people’s pockets. The American economy has gone digital.
Yet, the rapid transition to online content and services comes at a price. Buying cheaper goods directly from wholesalers, immediately accessing government services, and finding employment opportunities are increasingly only available to those who have an online connection. As a result, individuals without a private Internet subscription or digital skills are at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing economic opportunity. Individuals with digital skills but no private broadband subscription –likely due to the United States’ relatively expensive broadband service—must spend extra time getting to public connection points, such as libraries. And since everyone cannot regularly access the Internet, government agencies must operate both digital and analog systems, and private businesses miss out on an expanded customer base.
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