Broadband Communities

SEP 2018

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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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | B R O A D B A N D C O M M U N I T I E S | w w w. b r o a d b a n d c o m m u n i t i e s . c o m | A U G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 8 Predicting Broadband Effects A new type of statistical model helps cities estimate broadband's effects on their economic well-being. M any studies connect broadband to national growth in income, employment or other indicators. ere is also plenty of anecdotal evidence about cities that have attracted jobs through better broadband – or have been passed over by site selection committees because their broadband wasn't good enough. Inspired by these studies and anecdotes, localities have invested in broadband infrastructure, either directly or through various partnerships with private providers. eir results have been mixed. Some have achieved dramatic turnarounds in their local economies, most have seen at least some positive effects and others have little to show for their efforts. is variation may reflect differences in how well the networks are built, operated and marketed. ere's also evidence that broadband is more effective when it's part of a coherent economic development strategy. However, there may also be inherent differences among cities that affect their potential gains from better broadband. But until now, there has been no way to predict results for any particular city. Are there cities that can't benefit from an investment in broadband? Conversely, are there cities for which investing in broadband is an especially good bet? BRIDGES TO NOWHERE? In 2005, the Alaskan congressional delegation secured more than $200 million in federal funding for a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island, which has 50 residents. (To be fair, the island also has an airport.) Widely ridiculed as the "bridge to nowhere," the project was never constructed, and then-governor Sarah Palin canceled the state matching funds in 2007. Whether the bridge would have boosted the development of Gravina Island will never be known, but most Alaskans had a hard time imagining that it would. A few years later, political opponents picked up the phrase "bridge to nowhere" to criticize the broadband stimulus programs in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In retrospect, most of the networks these programs funded appear to have yielded positive economic results, but funding recipients couldn't demonstrate that they weren't building to the broadband equivalent of Gravina Island. Nor could funding agencies judge which applications would yield the biggest bang for the buck, economically speaking. Now, researchers at the University of Connecticut, with assistance from the state broadband office, have developed a model that predicts city-level benefits from increased broadband speeds. e model won't produce numbers that cities can "take to the bank," but it can be useful for two purposes: first, reassuring municipal governments that they How can a city know whether an investment in broadband will be justified by increased tax revenues, employment or wages?

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