The November-December 2014 issue of Broadband Communities includes primary research finding a correlation between population trends and the robustness of telecommunications services. The study covers the period of April 2010 to December 2013.
Editor-at-large Steve Ross, who conducted the research, notes his findings relate to a recent U.S. Commerce Department study showing the relative lack of robust Internet service in rural areas compared with urban areas. Examining census data, the Commerce Department study found for the first time in U.S. history, most rural counties lost population between 2010 and 2012.
Ross includes a couple of caveats on his research. He notes the broad urban/rural county classification used doesn't take into account that exurban counties often include some areas that are functionally urban and others that are functionally rural. He also cautions against drawing conclusions from the data as to whether the availability of strong telecommunications services attracts population and lack thereof drives out migration.
Given the relationship between robust telecommunications services and settlement patterns, Ross's research suggests that U.S. settlement patterns could strongly be influenced with the deployment of more robust telecommunications infrastructure in less populous areas of the nation. Especially given the fact that much of today's information and knowledge-based economic activity can take place most anywhere that infrastructure is available.