Does broadband policy matter? Turns out it does.

Last month, Telecommunications Policy posted a study from Brian Whitacre and Roberto Gallardo on the impact of state policies on broadband availability. The news is good for states and local governments who promote better broadband. And especially because Roberto will be one of our keynotes at the MN Fall Broadband conference I wanted to share the results.

Here’s the abstract…

We use a county-level panel dataset from 2012 to 2018 to assess the impacts of various state policies on total and rural broadband availability in the United States. The primary dependent variable is the percentage of residents with access to 25 Megabits per second (MBPS) download and 3 MBPS upload speeds via a fixed connection, with alternative specifications considering other aspects of availability such as technology type and competition. We control for the main determinants of Internet availability such as income, education, age, and population density. Our policy variables come from the newly released State Broadband Policy Explorer from the Pew Charitable Trusts and individual contacts from the nationwide State Broadband Leaders Network. Our primary policies of interest are those related to: (1) availability of state-level funding, (2) existence of a state-level broadband office/task force with full-time employees, and (3) restrictions on municipal/cooperative broadband provision. We find a positive and significant impact of state-level funding programs on general (and fiber) broadband availability, and a negative impact of municipal/cooperative restrictions. The findings are similar when the analysis is restricted to the rural portions of counties.

And to cut to the chase, here are the numbers indicating the impact of policy support…

  • We find that state-level funding programs increase general broadband availability by 1–2 percentage points.
  • We find that municipal/cooperative restrictions decrease general broadband availability by 3 percentage points.
This entry was posted in Policy, Research 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.

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