Lack of Rural Broadband Hinders Economic Development

Speed Matters ReportThanks to Bernadine Joselyn for forwarding two recent stories from the Speed Matters blog that focus on rural broadband and economic development.

In the first (Using tax credits to spur investment in rural Wisconsin), Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle has announced an economic development plan that includes $7.5 million in tax credits to spur businesses to expand high speed internet access.

Great idea and great that access is being tied to economic development!

In the same week Speed Matters also focused on a recent article in Computerworld on the growing digital divide between urban and rural areas. According to the Government Accountability Office only 17 percent of households in rural America subscribe to high speed internet service.

Computerworld points out that the limited broadband in rural areas is hurting everyone because it’s hurting local business and therefore local economic development. Ubiquitous broadband access could be the rising tide that lifts all boats – but when it only lifts some boats the rest of us end of making up the difference.

The article names a few larger businesses that are affected by limited broadband in rural areas. For example, Trans World Entertainment owns 1000 music shops (nearly showed my age there and write record shops) but 17 percent cannot get broadband access and therefore run into troubles when trying to access their back-end inventory and financial systems.

We noted a few other businesses in this blog that either were able to choose a great rural location because of access to broadband and a couple that were hurt because of their rural location.

Speed Matters finds a solution in Tech Republic’s blog:

Over at Tech Republic’s IT News Digest blog, Andy Moon makes a good point about what needs to be done to fix this:

The government, in my opinion, has an obligation to provide either regulation or incentives to convince the telecoms to extend their services, just as they were forced to extend telephone service and just as the electric companies were forced to provide power to all areas.

This entry was posted in economic development, Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

1 thought on “Lack of Rural Broadband Hinders Economic Development

  1. Pingback: Digital Divide in Minnesota on MPR « Blandin on Broadband

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