Having higher speed internet access can do more than simply improve your family’s enjoyment of entertainment and games. Today, experts say that better broadband connectivity is helping people gain access to additional medical care through telemedicine, enabling children to access multimedia educational resources, improving small businesses’ ability to interact with customers and suppliers, and even helping improve the broader economy nationwide.
“The Economic Impact of Rural Broadband,” a new report released by the Hudson Institute and commissioned by the Foundation for Rural Service (FRS), reveals that investments made by rural broadband providers have had a significant impact on both urban and rural economies. In fact, 46 percent of the jobs supported by economic activity created by rural broadband companies are in rural areas while 54 perfect are in urban areas.
At a time when the ability to complete a transaction electronically has become indispensable, the report highlights the economic benefits of broadband on both urban and rural communities.
“The advancement and viability of our rural American communities is not just a rural issue but a national imperative,” says FRS executive director, Jessica Golden. “Rural broadband contributes to not only the rural economy but to the nation’s economy as a whole.”
Indeed, rural broadband companies contributed more than $24 billion to the U.S. economy in 2015 through their own operations and the follow-on impact of their operations, according to the report. Additionally, over $100 billion in e-commerce was supported by rural broadband, with the largest share drawn from the manufacturing sector.
Beyond these direct economic benefits of rural broadband services come secondary benefits for the nearly 20 percent of Americans living in rural communities: access to distance education, telemedicine, remote monitoring systems aided by live-stream video, and multi-participant interactive programming.
“While technical challenges still remain, it is clear that investing in rural broadband will have far-reaching positive impacts for both urban and rural America,” says Golden.