Broadband Communities

MAR-APR 2017

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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MARCH/APRIL 2017 | www.broadbandcommunities.com | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | 37 In addition, subscribers in areas with one broadband provider get less than half the bandwidth that subscribers in areas with two or more providers get for the same price. (See Figure 2.) Furthermore, more than two- thirds of businesses across the United States don't have broadband that meets the FCC's definition of 25 Mbps download, and almost half don't have 3 Mbps upload speed. (See Figures 3 and 4.) If broadband service providers cannot make a business case for investing because of high construction costs (for example, in the mountains), low population density, low expected take rates or low revenues per user, they won't invest – and, given their lack of a business case, they probably shouldn't. is is a significant competitive disadvantage for rural businesses that need reliable, affordable, high-speed internet to participate effectively in the digital economy. SNG research shows that communities and regions have difficulty retaining businesses if they don't have broadband. (See Figure 5.) Broadband is an essential service. It is the infrastructure for the digital economy, and broadband gaps must be addressed if communities in unserved and underserved areas are to • Improve business competitiveness, innovation, and growth • Retain and expand businesses • Enhance quality of life and household income • Enable "smart" municipal services. COMMUNITY BENEFITS NOT ON THE BALANCE SHEET When the same problem crops up over and over again, it's time to start looking for different options. For unserved and underserved areas, that starts with better understanding the realities of where the business case for broadband ends – which was the first step of my journey. e second step was to explore what can be done to bridge those gaps. Even though private-sector broadband providers cannot and should not build where there is no business case for investing, there are community benefits that are off- balance sheet to private investors that make the case for public investment in broadband. Airports, roads and electric grids are examples of public investment in infrastructure that makes sense as essential public goods because community benefits are greater than private-sector profits. For the last 15 years, SNG has focused beyond availability to meaningful use of broadband – that is, on how to drive economic and community benefits from whatever internet connection is available. Our Figure 1 Figure 2

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