Study: More US broadband has $134 billion economic impact

An increase of 7 percent broadband adoption would mean $134 billion for the US economy, a study says.

A modest increase in U.S. broadband adoption would have an annual economic impact of US$134 billion, according to a study released Thursday.

A 7 percent increase in broadband adoption would create 2.4 million jobs across the U.S., would save $662 million in health-care costs and $6.4 billion in vehicle mileage, among other savings, according to the study, released by Connected Nation, a nonprofit group focused on improving broadband adoption across the U.S.

A broadband stimulus package would pump nearly as much money into the U.S. economy as an economic stimulus package recently passed by the U.S. Congress, said Brian Mefford, Connected Nation's CEO. A proposal being considered as part of a farm bill before Congress would allow immediate depreciation for investment in broadband infrastructure and "provide a jolt to the nation's economy in the near term," Mefford said.

Some lawmakers and conservative think tanks have opposed calls to create a wide-ranging national broadband policy, Mefford said. However, the Connected Nation model, patterned after a program in Kentucky, focuses more on broadband adoption and local needs than huge, government-funded programs, he said. "It's a consensus-type approach," Mefford said.

The ConnectKentucky model that spawned Connected Nation is "bringing in jobs," said Mark McElroy, Connected Nation's chief operating officer and senior vice president for communications. Through ConnectKentucky, the state has adopted broadband 7 percent faster than it would have without the program, according to the organization.

The Connected Nation study estimates the U.S. would gain $92 billion in new wages from the 2.4 million jobs created through broadband growth. Using broadband for health-care services has saved an average of more than $200 per person per year in Kentucky, and residents there drove more than 100 fewer hours per month because of transactions done online, according to the study.

In addition to the health-care and mileage savings, U.S. residents would save 3.8 billion hours a year by conducting transactions online, at a cost-savings of $35.2 billion, according to the study.

Kentucky was one of the lowest states in the nation for broadband adoption when ConnectKentucky began in 2002, Mefford said. In January 2004, only 60 percent of Kentucky residents had access to broadband; at the end of 2007, 95 percent did, according to the study.

Several Kentucky businesses have benefited from the increased access, according to Connected Nation. Geek Squad, the Best Buy subsidiary, moved its headquarters to Bullitt County, Kentucky, in late 2006 because of the broadband availability, according to Connected Nation.

The U.S. government should focus on public-private partnerships to extend broadband to the remaining areas that do not have it, many of them being low-population rural areas, Mefford said. "These remaining areas are extremely difficult to reach."

Three bills now in Congress, the Connect the Nation Act, the Broadband Data Improvement Act and the Broadband Census of America Act, would replicate parts of the ConnectKentucky model on a national scale.

Not everyone is a fan of ConnectKentucky, however. Public Knowledge, a digital rights group, has raised concerns that ConnectKentucky is "nothing more than a sales force and front group" for telecom provider AT&T, said the group's communications director, Art Brodsky, in a January blog post. Officials that set up ConnectKentucky "ignored municipal utilities, competitive telephone companies and Internet service providers," Brodsky wrote.

Connected Nation has denied that it's a front for AT&T, saying the company has provided less that 1 percent of the organization's revenues.

Connected Nation's focus is on increasing broadband adoption, not on who provides the broadband, Mefford said Thursday. "This is not a 'Field of Dreams' kind proposition," he said. "You don't just string wires or create wireless footprints and think that economies are going to magically turn themselves around. The impact does not occur until we have people using the technology."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?