According to the data aggregation company BroadbandNow, an estimated 42 million Americans still have no access to broadband Internet service, most of them in rural areas. Without the speed, latency and reliability of the fiber-fed networks being deployed in cities, the rural economic divide will likely continue to widen. At the same time, a 2021 Deloitte study found that a 10% increase in broadband access in 2014 would have generated more than 875,000 additional jobs and $186 billion in economic output in the U.S. by 2019. Another 10 megabits-per-second (Mbps) faster average speeds in 2016 would have added 139,400 new jobs.
With broadband entering its largest investment cycle ever, a community’s economic survival will increasingly depend on its Internet, and only fiber optic-based solutions will be enough to compete.
She offers Bemidji’s Relocate218 as an example of what’s going right…
Other areas are using broadband to draw in new residents. Bemidji, Minnesota, with a population of 15,000, is attempting to capitalize on its fiber-optic network with Relocate 218, an incentive program to draw more remote workers that includes a free co-working space and a $2,500 reimbursement for moving expenses.