Broadband Communities

NOV-DEC 2016

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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20 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Economic Development Is The Killer App For Local Fiber Networks More and more communities are taking proactive steps to ensure that their communities are equipped with next-generation internet infrastructure. Their economic livelihood depends on it. By Jim Baller, Joanne Hovis and Ashley Stelfox / Coalition for Local Internet Choice and Masha Zager / Broadband Communities In the November-December 2014 edition of Broad B and Communities , the authors reviewed the available economic research and other evidence on the relationship between broadband and economic development and concluded that economic development was the " killer app" for local fiber networks. In this article, we update the research and other evidence to reflect new developments in the last two years, and we arrive at the same conclusion. F or almost two decades, nearly every U.S. community that has developed a fiber optic broadband network has put economic development at the top of its list of reasons for doing so. To be sure, communities also recognize that fiber networks provide critical benefits for education, public safety, health care, transportation, energy, environmental protection, urban revitalization, government service and much more. Ultimately, however, the promise of economic development, including both attraction and retention of opportunities for meaningful and well-paying work, combined with the fear of falling behind other communities in the United States and around the world, unites local communities across political, economic, cultural, educational and other divides. In short, just as communities a century ago found electrification essential to their survival and quality of life, communities today have increasingly come to recognize that their citizens can survive and thrive in the modern economy only if they have affordable access to high-capacity internet connections. THE LINK BETWEEN BROADBAND AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT e availability of broadband networks is one factor that organizations take into account when deciding whether to move to or remain in a particular community. Other significant considerations include energy costs, ease of doing business, taxes, labor costs, education levels and availability of water – which may contribute in varying degrees from case to case. 1 As a result, it is difficult to make broad, data-driven generalizations about the precise role of broadband networks in stimulating economic development. Even so, several formal economic studies have sought to shed light on the relationship between broadband networks and economic development. e first wave of these studies, which focused on first-generation, low-capacity broadband networks, 2 suggested that there was at least an association, and probably even a causal relationship, between broadband and economic development. As one of these studies concluded, "the internet plays an integral role in

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