In today's world, an internet connection can make a huge difference in a person's life. But long before the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the rate at which our lives moved online, America's internet service providers offered special, low-cost broadband adoption plans like Connect2Compete and Internet Essentials so that everyone could participate. In fact, over the last decade, more than 14 million customers connected to the internet via these discounted offerings.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, work, school, and social lives were forced to move online. That accelerated need to get connected was met with emergency programs and extensions of existing ones. During 2020, over 5 million new households signed up for internet service.
And while too many Americans have access to the internet but choose not to connect, there are still pockets of our country (largely rural and remote regions) that are miles away from the closest network. So to tackle the need to wire these unconnected regions, crews continued their hard work to extend service to new areas and communities. In fact, 1.3 million new homes have been added to broadband service since 2019, including 340,000 in rural areas.
The pandemic has highlighted where digital gaps exist, but America's broadband leaders have risen to the occasion and continued their commitment to getting every American connected. There is still work to do, but we can build on the successes of the past.