Verizon and Amazon are teaming up to meet one of the unrealized infrastructure goals for the U.S. -- expanding broadband internet access across rural America.

On Tuesday, Verizon released a statement announcing that it would be partnering with Project Kuiper, an Amazon proposal to launch thousands of satellites into orbit in the coming years to increase internet coverage worldwide.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said there are "billions of people without reliable broadband access" and "no single company can close the digital divide on their own." 

Bringing Verizon on board for Project Kuiper can be an important milestone for the nascent initiative. Last July, Amazon announced that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted its approval to Kuiper, but no satellites to date have been launched into orbit. In April, Amazon concluded a deal with the United Launch Alliance with a plan to conduct nine satellite launches. 

The importance of maintaining stable access to the internet has taken on additional urgency after the COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of workers and students indoors to protect them from the virus. The surge in remote work and learning has abated somewhat with the pandemic, but hybrid formats are still common to limit any spread in the virus and keep work and learning spaces safe. 

Expanding broadband to rural America through this project could be an important step in addressing a digital divide between U.S. communities today. According to Pew Research, rural America has seen an increase in its connectivity to the internet, but it remains behind suburban and urban counterparts. 

President Joe Biden’s infrastructure agenda has included ideas for expanding broadband access for underserved communities, including an estimated 35% of rural Americans.