Broadband Communities

MAY-JUN 2014

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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48 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | MAY/JUNE 2014 SUMMIT COVERAGE had access to only two or fewer wired broadband providers, according to the National Broadband Map. Te gap between rural and urban is not only in choice of providers. Tere is also a widening gap in the broadband speed tiers available in these communities. Tough two of three people in suburban communities and central cities have access to 50 Mbps service, the fgure is only one of three people living in small towns and one of seven for folks in very rural areas. What's more, NTIA's Digital Nation report shows a 14 percentage-point diference in household adoption rates between urban and rural residents. Low-income, rural, African American households have the lowest adoption rate, with roughly one of four subscribing to broadband. Tere is too much at stake to allow these gaps to remain. If we zoom out from the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains to the national and global level for a minute, we get a good perspective on why broadband is so critical for communities to participate in the digital economy. First, getting better, faster, cheaper and more ubiquitous broadband is good for employment. More than a half-million jobs have been created by apps since the iPhone debuted in 2007. Eighty-three percent of information- sector jobs in 2010 were located in areas where broadband with download speeds of 50 Mbps or greater was available. In short, communities need high-speed Internet to retain and attract jobs. Consider Utah's UTOPIA network, the result of a partnership among 16 municipalities in the Great Salt Lake region. Te network has enabled these communities to attract a number of well-paying businesses, including the Danish frm FLSmidth, which supplies equipment and services to the minerals and cement industries, with an average salary of $90,000. Because of the infux of new businesses, Midvale City reports an upswing in average household income, as employees are choosing to live in new housing in the Bingham Junction area. Second, broadband is good for businesses. Earlier this year, the Commerce Department released data showing that 60 percent of the services the U.S. exported in 2011 (more than $357 billion dollars) were "digitally deliverable." Tis number is growing, as is the percentage of imported services that are digitally deliverable. Tis underscores two points. First, if your community does not have high-speed access – and you are not part of the digital economy – you are increasingly less likely to be a part of the overall economy. Second, if your community is producing these services, then it is likely that increased competition in a global digital environment will put pressure on business to continue to out-innovate and out-compete looming rivals. Tird, broadband is good for economic development in general. Broadband availability, adoption and speed are all correlated with economic development. A 10-percentage-point increase in broadband subscribership translates into a growth dividend that ranges from a .8- to 1.2-percentage- point increase in GDP. Doubling broadband speed will contribute to .3 percentage point growth over base year. When you contemplate these statistics and look at the before and after story in North Georgia, you can see that we can't wait to make smart broadband investments in our communities and key institutions. Communities can't wait as the global economy goes digital. Other countries are not waiting to make signifcant investments in broadband infrastructure; nor should we. Te stakes are too high. It's a question of will; it's a question of priorities; it's a question of values. KEEPING THE MOMENTUM GOING As NTIA successfully winds down the BTOP program, we are examining strategies to build on the $4 billion in BTOP investments across the country and help communities drive further economic development through the use of broadband. BTOP and SBI team members are using their combined 500-plus years of experience in broadband deployment and adoption to evaluate BTOP's successes and challenges and are working to document best practices and lessons learned. NTIA is building on its popular Broadband Adoption Toolkit, aimed at sharing best practices developed from its broadband adoption and digital literacy projects. Te toolkit leverages the experience of about 100 BTOP communities, providing practical ideas and useful examples for overcoming barriers to adoption and getting more Americans online. NTIA also maintains an online library of the more than two dozen "how to" webinars it ofers grantees. We are exploring what additional technical assistance might be helpful for communities that want to expand broadband in their regions and improve their broadband preparedness. What resources might local leaders fnd useful? And how can we assist communities to be Open for Business so they are more attractive to potential private investment? I welcome your thoughts on these ideas. v Anthony Wilhelm is acting chief of staf of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Tis article was excerpted from his remarks at the 2014 BroadBand Communities Summit. A community that does not have high-speed access – and is not part of the digital economy – is increasingly less likely to be part of the overall economy. BBC_May14.indd 48 5/29/14 9:17 AM

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