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Broadband Investment Hits 20-Year High

Fiber optic
(Image credit: Pixabay)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The trade group USTelecom has issued a new report showing that America’s broadband providers invested $86 billion in their networks in 2021, the highest total in 20 years. 

The $86 billion private sector investment in 2021 is up 8.3% from $79.4 billion in 2020 and $80.8 billion in 2019. That is the highest since 2001, when $111.5 billion was invested and the third highest amount ever. 

Such spending is likely to continue as broadband providers battle increased competition from 5G providers like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile and the U.S. government ramps up spending on broadband infrastructure in underserved communities. 

Congress, via the BEAD program, is set to invest $42.5 billion in broadband, spread over four years. While this is an unprecedented government effort to bring broadband to all in America, particularly those in hard-to-reach places, the BEAD investment is less than half of what the industry invested last year alone, the report said. 

The report also noted that a selection of companies have announced that they will bring fiber to 50 million additional households in the coming years.

Overall USTelecom estimates that since 1996, private U.S. communications providers have invested approximately $2 trillion in building out broadband infrastructure. 

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.