Tuesday, November 13, 2007

California study finds "clear connection between investing in broadband technology and job growth"

California stands to gain 1.8 million jobs and $132 billion of new payroll over the next 10 years with a 3.8 percent increase in the utilization of DSL and cable broadband Internet services, according to a study released today by the Sacramento Regional Research Institute (SRRI).

“There is a clear connection between investing in broadband technology and job growth,” said Dr. Kristin Van Gaasbeck, Assistant Professor of Economics at California State University, Sacramento and one of the authors of the report.

The study used statistical models as well as economic and broadband usage data from 2001 through 2005 to analyze 24 major regions of California and project future growth. It projected three levels of annual growth of the percentage of the adult population using broadband: a .2 percent annual increase, 3.8 percent increase and a 7.6 percent increase. Under the latter growth scenario, 2.2 million jobs would be created in the state representing $267 billion in new payroll.

Here are some key excerpts from a summary of the SRRI study:

SRRI’s analysis shows that this migration and the growth in broadband use appears to have had a positive and significant effect on employment and payroll in the state. Economic theory would suggest that increased investment in the deployment and, sequentially, the use of broadband has the potential to generate incremental benefits to many of the state’s regions and California overall.

All regions of the state could benefit from an incremental boost in jobs and total payroll with increased broadband use, but the magnitude depends on the local economic conditions
and unique distribution of Internet connections.

Unfortunately, that unique distribution of Internet connections currently leaves sizable areas of the state without access to cable or DSL broadband. AT&T, which funded the SRRI study and provides the bulk of DSL broadband service in California, bears a large degree of responsibility since it has effectively abandoned these areas, offering them only inferior satellite sub-broadband service, which notably wasn't included in the SSRI study.

Four months ago, a study by the Public Policy Institute of California revealed sharp differences among regions of the state when it comes to broadband access, ranging from under 30 percent of households in the Sierra Nevada (21%) and northern part of the state (29%) to just over 50 percent in the San Francisco Bay Area (51%) and the greater Los Angeles area (52%). The PPIC study recommended the California Emerging Technology Fund should focus on broadband deployment in rural areas.

The SRRI report comes as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Broadband Task Force nears completion of a one year study to find ways to remove barriers to broadband access, identify opportunities for increased broadband adoption and enable the creation and deployment of new advanced communication technologies.

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