Moving the Needle Forward on Broadband & Economic Development

August and September, in partnership with the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), I conducted a national survey of IEDC members and others affiliated with IEDC. The primary goal was to get a snapshot of how broadband impacts local economic outcomes. A secondary goal was to gather some insights to leveraging broadband as an economic development asset.

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This is the only survey that goes directly to the people who work in the trenches daily impacting local economic outcomes. Here is where I separate some of the hype surrounding broadband’s power to transform local economies with some reality checks. Some of the findings from this year’s survey include:

  • only 11% of economic developers believe broadband’s biggest economic benefit to individuals is helping them find jobs;
  • 18% of respondents have insufficient speeds to produce economic outcomes listed and have given up hope for a solution;
  • another 13% do not have enough speed to get the job done, but are actively trying to find or create a solution;
  • 43.5% of respondents’ jurisdictions exist under duopoly conditions, 15.5% are in communities that live with a broadband monopoly;
  • about 12% of respondent’ say their communities plan to start building broadband networks in the next 18 months, another 22% hope to build a network at some point in the future;
  • 64% of respondents reject convention broadband remedies for urban areas to say “faster speeds, cheaper services” will have the biggest impact on economic development (value of computing centers compromised by crappy infrastructure in poor communities);
  • fiber continues to outshine wireless in terms of expected impact on economic outcomes, with the biggest gap in expectations in the areas of attracting businesses to a community and making local companies more competitive; and
  • 41% – 48% of respondents believe broadband can increase the number of home-based businesses; and
  • significant percentages of respondents say broadband adoption doesn’t mean jack if there are not programs in place to support workers, entrepreneurs and small businesses who get broadband access.

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Download your copy of the survey report here. Be sure to also to download survey respondents’ comments in response to the questions:

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Do you expect an increase in communities (through co-ops, nonprofits, community foundations, etc.) literally taking broadband infrastructure buildouts into their own hands? If so, how will these organizations overcome funding challenges?

How can you and your professional peers help communities get broadband services that improve local economic development?

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On Monday (10/15) my radio show, Gigabit Nation, will be all about economic development as I take call-ins from listeners to get their viewpoints on how to make. I want to hear from you. Btw, the show will be archived in case you can’t catch it live.

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  • Who’s Craig Settles?

    Industry analyst, expert broadband business strategist, runs on-site workshops to help clients create effective broadband plans.

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