Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Broadband expansion positively correlates with local economic growth, study finds

The Public Policy Institute of California has issued a new study finding a positive relationship between broadband expansion and economic growth, particularly among information-based industries and in areas with lower population densities.

The study is based on a comparison of Federal Communications Commission data on the number of broadband providers by ZIP code and employment data for the period 1999 to 2006.

Study author Jed Kolko however qualifies the findings given the shortcomings of the FCC data that overstate broadband availability and define broadband at throughput speeds most observers today consider outdated.

Kolko also cautions that the availability of broadband is a relatively recent phenom making it difficult to reach firm conclusions on its impact on economic activity. (Not to mention that data from the years 2007-09 were not included in the study)

In addition, the PPIC report notes increased deployment of fiber to the home infrastructure could lead to different findings. If combined with low cost videoconferencing equipment, fiber could also boost telecommuting -- for which Kolko found no demonstrable increase with the most widely available premises technologies during the study period, i.e. DSL and cable.

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