The U.S. is the world’s leading provider of high-speed broadband Internet access

Internet freedom is up slightly in the U.S. but global decline continues in 2014 as we mark the anniversary of the U.S. Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which allows the Internet to function without barriers in 193 countries, from China to Canada.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) says 2015 will be the first year in which Internet users in the US will exceed the 1.5 billion mark, up slightly from 1.45 billion in 2014 after nearly a year of robust growth.

In the U.S., broadband Internet access reached 915.8 million users last year, up from 895.5 million in 2013, according to the latest data from the Broadband Internet Report from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

But the U.S. will be no different from many of its peer nations when it comes to broadband, with the Internet industry, academia, nonprofits and government all in agreement that the country is in a unique position to lead the world in broadband access.

U.S. broadband access also tops the Global Information Technology Report 2014 annual global report, according to the Global Information Technology & Telecommunications Council, Inc. (GITTC). Last year, more than 1.4 billion people had access to basic or high-speed Internet access, almost as many as before the start of the Great Recession.

“The US is a pioneer in broadband for the whole world, while having the lowest cost of living and lowest cost of education,” said Dan Witterz, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Information Technology Council, in the GITTC report. “The US leadership in broadband access has enabled the US to be the innovation center of the internet.”

While the debate over net neutrality is still raging, one of the most important and long-standing issues in the U.S. is the future of access to high-speed broadband Internet access.

In February, a U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote affirmed net neutrality rules that prohibit internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and, of course, others, from blocking, throttling or slow-charging apps based on their content, as well as from charging for access to certain websites.

The vote follows a decade of legal wrangling as broadband companies have challenged the FCC’s authority in the wake of the landmark U.S

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