- June 1, 2021: Vol. 14, Number 6

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The utility of competition: A balanced, flexible approach that rewards innovation can help bridge the digital divide

by Kali Persall

The COVID-19 pandemic has played a substantial part in the burgeoning digital world, triggering a massive infrastructure build-out of fiber, tower networks, 5G and data centers to meet the growing needs of urban and rural communities. The pandemic shone a spotlight on the digital divide that persists in rural and low-income neighborhoods, in particular — warranting an even larger build-out in these regions. In 2019, Microsoft conducted a study that revealed nearly 163 million people across the United States do not use the internet at broadband speeds, trumping the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) estimate that only 25 million Americans lacked access to a broadband connection. Microsoft also noted that at least six independent studies show broadband has a direct impact on jobs and GDP growth, and there is a link between counties with the highest unemployment and the lowest broadband usage and access. Now, with public health orders mandating remote work and schooling, the

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