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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A new report makes the case that closing the gap in broadband access could add hundreds of thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars in economic output.

Why it matters: As both education and work shift online, those who don't have reliable internet access will be left behind, which hurts them and the country as a whole.

By the numbers: Deloitte found in a new report that as of 2014, 16 million Americans — roughly 5% of the population — lacked access to broadband internet speeds of at least 4 megabytes per second (Mbps).

  • In 2019 — after $54 billion in investment — 14.4 million Americans still lacked access to broadband under the FCC's new speed threshold of at least 25 Mbps for downloads.

What could have been: Deloitte estimates more than 875,000 new jobs and $186 billion in additional economic output would have occurred in 2019 had there been a 10-point increase in broadband access in 2014.

Between the lines: Dan Littmann, a principal at Deloitte and one of the authors of the report, points out that the broadband gap increasingly exists not because the government and internet companies have failed to invest but because "internet performance expectations and needs continue to increase."

  • "Larger households may feel as though they are 'left behind' because they can’t all work or learn simultaneously from home," he adds.

What's next: One new option for expanding broadband availability is fixed wireless access installations that can bring 5G to both rural and urban areas that lack faster internet, says Durga Malladi, senior VP of engineering at Qualcomm.

  • A single fixed 5G wireless point can provide speeds of up to 1 gigabyte per second for homes and businesses at a range of some 3 miles.

The bottom line: "In today's world, connectivity is no longer a luxury," says Malladi. "It's a necessity."

Go deeper

Broadband usage will keep growing post-pandemic

Expand chart
Data: OpenVault; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Increased broadband usage is a pandemic trend that's here to say, analysts and telecom executives argue.

The big picture: Broadband usage increased 40% over the past year, the highest annual growth rate in nearly 10 years, according to new data from OpenVault. The massive jump is attributed to people spending more time at home with their devices, primarily streaming video.

Updated 17 mins ago - Science

NTSB probes deadly Alabama crash as storms lash Southeast and Midwest

Flash-flooding in Bloomington, Indiana, on Saturday. Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The National Transportation Safety Board announced Sunday that it's sent a team to Alabama to help investigate a fiery multi-vehicle weekend crash that killed 10 people, including nine children.

The big picture: Saturday's crash, south of Montgomery, occurred amid a tropical depression that left 13 people dead in Alabama as it triggered flash floods and spawned tornadoes that razed "dozens of homes" in the Southeast over the weekend, per AP. Parts of the Midwest, including Indiana and Chicago, where a tornado struck late Sunday.

Laurel Hubbard to become 1st openly trans athlete to compete at Olympics

New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, when she became the first openly transgender athlete to represent NZ. Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

The New Zealand Olympic Committee has announced that Laurel Hubbard has been selected for the women's weightlifting team for the Tokyo Games — making her the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the event.

The big picture: Hubbard, 43, is part of a five-member Kiwi weightlifting team and will compete in the women's super heavyweight category. Meanwhile, BMX rider Chelsea Wolfe will become the first openly trans athlete to travel to the Olympics with Team USA, when she arrives in Tokyo as a reserve rider.