June 30, 2016 8:23 AM EDT

Many of us take broadband Internet for granted, but nearly 1 in 5 Americans lacks access to it, says the FCC. In rural areas, telecom companies balk at the cost of wiring far-flung homes, while low-income families can find the fees prohibitive. Closing the broadband gap is about more than being able to stream Game of Thrones. High-speed Internet is a critical tool of modern life, enabling kids to learn digitally and adults to work via the cloud. The FCC recently approved a small broadband subsidy, but the real solution may lie in increased competition for a notoriously consolidated industry.

This appears in the July 11, 2016 issue of TIME.

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