Broadband

Access to high-speed Internet service — also known as broadband — is a basic public necessity, just like water or electricity.

Yet despite its importance, broadband access in the United States is far from universal. Millions of Americans still stand on the wrong side of the "digital divide," unable to tap into the political, economic and social resources of the Internet.

A 2013 survey from the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that just 70 percent of Americans age 18 and up have high-speed Internet access at home. Pew noted that age, education and household income are the strongest predictors for home broadband adoption.

And Americans who do have broadband connections pay more and get less than residents of most other developed nations. Survey after survey shows U.S. broadband quality, speed and adoption rates falling dangerously behind that of countries in Asia and Europe.

This is unacceptable in our digital age, when getting all Americans connected to an open, fast and affordable Internet should be a national priority.

Broken policies in Washington have made it easier for phone and cable companies to charge more and more for high-speed Internet access — and to refuse to connect underserved communities. Meanwhile, several state legislatures, bowing to pressure from Comcast, Time Warner Cable and their friends, have outlawed community-owned networks that would offer affordable, world-class Internet to hundreds of thousands of people. The result? More people are stuck with high prices, limited choices and slow — or nonexistent — Internet service.

Whether Americans are able to reap the benefits of broadband — and whether they enjoy a choice of providers, speeds and prices — depends largely on policy decisions made in Washington.

Blog Posts

  • Public to FCC: Stop the Merger

    August 27, 2014
    This week, tens of thousands of people — along with dozens of public interest organizations, media companies, and competitive telecom providers — spoke out against the kind of trouble we can expect if Comcast is allowed to merge with Time Warner Cable.
  • Comcast's Epic Fails

    August 21, 2014
    Florida resident Benny Druin needed Comcast to come out for a service call. No big deal, right? Well, the first technician couldn’t do the job. Nor could the second. Or the third.
  • Which Side Are You On, Tom?

    July 2, 2014
    Net Neutrality activists had one simple question for the FCC chairman on Tuesday: Which side are you on, Tom?
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Actions

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Press Releases

  • Free Press Files Petition to Deny AT&T-DIRECTV Merger

    September 17, 2014
    WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, Free Press filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission to deny AT&T's proposed merger with DIRECTV, stating that the deal harms the public interest.
  • Chairman's New Definition for Broadband Helps Bring the FCC into the 21st Century

    September 4, 2014

    WASHINGTON — On Thursday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler delivered a speech about the future of broadband at the 1776 startup campus. In his remarks, the chairman said that broadband users need Internet connections of at least 25 megabits per second — far beyond what slow DSL connections are capable of providing.  He also confirmed that users have few if any competitive options for these kinds of modern broadband services.

  • Free Press Files Petition to Deny Comcast Takeover of Time Warner Cable

    August 25, 2014
    WASHINGTON -- Free Press today filed a “petition to deny” the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable. The petition, submitted to the Federal Communications Commission, presents a definitive account of how the merger fails both the public interest and the antitrust tests required for regulatory approval.
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Resources

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News from Around the Web

  • Growling by Comcast May Bring Tighter Leash

    New York Times
    September 29, 2014

    Comcast has a long corporate tradition of smiling and wearing beige no matter what kind of criticisms are hurled at it. That public posture is in keeping with the low-key approach favored by Brian L. Roberts, the company’s chief executive, as he seeks to take over the world. It’s worked very well so far.

    But in a filing submitted to the Federal Communications Commission last week in defense of its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable, the company lashed out uncharacteristically at its critics.

  • Mayor's Comcast Support Puts Donors Over Customers

    The Chicago Reporter
    September 22, 2014

    It’s not surprising that Mayor Rahm Emanuel would endorse the $45 billion Comcast-Time Warner merger after getting more than $100,000 in political donations from Comcast and its executives over his career — though it does “exemplify everything that’s wrong with the way media policy is made,” as Craig Aaron, president of the Free Press, told me.

  • Net Neutrality Was Just the Start. Can the FCC Keep States from Banning Public Internet?

    Washington Post
    July 22, 2014

    While everyone's worked up about how to keep the Internet an open platform, another little-known controversy is quickly gaining steam. How it plays out could determine whether millions of Americans get to build their own, local alternatives to big, corporate ISPs such as Comcast and Verizon.

Learn More

  • Cable

    Two decades ago, something unusual happened.

    Consumers were irate about their cable bills, which were increasing at nearly three times the rate of inflation. And Congress actually did something — adopting in overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion the 1992 Cable Act. The law resulted in lower cable bills, saving consumers $3 billion in just over a year’s time.

  • Cybersecurity

    Our right to private communications is a cornerstone of American democracy. But with heightened awareness in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, technological advances have continued allowing the government to expand its reach into our private lives via electronic surveillance and data-mining programs. New laws and policies introduced in the last decade have eroded our civil liberties online.

    Congress has a poor track record when it comes to cybersecurity legislation. The bills introduced so far give the government way too much power to intrude on our privacy online.

  • Declaration of Internet Freedom

    Tired of fighting bad bills like SOPA, PIPA and CISPA? Want to stand up against those who are trying to control what we do and say online? It's time for something different.

    A group of more than 1,500 organizations, academics, startup founders and tech innovators has come together to sign a Declaration of Internet Freedom, a set of five principles that put forward a positive vision of the open Internet. Click here to add your name.

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good