When you need numbers to make your case I know where you can go! To the new report from Purdue University (by Roberto Gallardo, Brian Whitacre and Alison Grant) – Research & Policy Insights: Broadband’s Impact A Brief Literature Review. It looks at research related to broadband specifically on the following topics:
- Economic Development
- Migration & Civic Engagement
- Smart Cities, Big Data, & Artificial Intelligence
Again, it’s a great reference tool to help give you quality answers to help make the case for better broadband. It’s also inspiring to read. I wanted to share just a portion they wrote about rural broadband…
Focusing on rural areas is important since they are lagging behind urban areas when it comes to broadband deployment and use (Perrin, 2017; Good, 2017). Furthermore, rural places need digital connectivity in order to compensate for their remoteness (Salemink, Strijker, & Bosworth, 2015). Studies that have given specific attention to rural areas have noted a positive relationship between rural broadband access and adoption and greater economic growth (Stenberg, et al., 2009), attraction of new firms (Kim & Orazem, 2017), higher household incomes (Whitacre, Gallardo, & Stover, 2014), small business growth (Shideler & Badasyan, 2012), increase in annual sales and value added (Canzian, Poy, & Schuller, 2015), and growth in annual payroll and number of business establishments (Kandilov & Renkow, 2010). In addition, a recent article explored the effects of USDA broadband loan programs on agriculture and found a positive impact on farm sales, expenditures, and profits among rural counties adjacent to metropolitan counties (Kandilov, Kandilov, Liu, & Renkow, 2017).
Additional studies have estimated the economic impact of rural broadband or lack thereof. The Hudson Institute estimated that broadband companies contributed $2.4 billion in 2015, supporting over 65,000 jobs and $100 billion in e-commerce (Kuttner, 2016). Another report conducted by Ohio State University attempted to estimate the economic benefits associated with increasing broadband access and adoption in Ohio. Using two research articles that estimated broadband consumer surplus ($1,850 per household per year was used in practice), they concluded that reaching full broadband coverage and adoption among currently unserved Ohio households would result in $2 billion in economic benefits over the next 15 years (Rembert, Feng, & Partridge , 2017). Following a similar methodology, another study found that assuming full access of 25/3 Megabytes per second (Mbps) fixed broadband in the United States and a 20 percent adoption would result in $43.8 billion in economic benefits over 15 years (Gallardo & Rembert, 2017).
Important to note is that distinguishing between broadband access/availability and adoption is critical. Even if broadband is available, subscribing or using it (adoption) is not a given. In fact, Internet know-how or utilization is not randomly distributed among the population. For example, a study among young (college-age) Internet users found that parental education, gender, and race/ethnicity impacted the level of web-use skills (Hargittai, 2010). Furthermore, the relationship between entrepreneurs and creative class workers found that broadband adoption actually had a negative relationship with creative class type of workers in rural communities, while higher broadband availability is associated with a higher level of entrepreneurs (Conley & Whitacre, 2016). Another study found that increases in broadband adoption were more significantly related to changes in median household income and percentage of nonfarm proprietors than broadband availability (Whitacre, Gallardo, & Strover, 2014). Thus, it is important to distinguish between the impact of broadband access/availability and adoption/utilization since the digital divide consists of both (Gallardo, 2016).