Broadband and Rural Economies

June 4, 2017 by Eva Artschwager

Median Household Income grows faster with high broadband adoption (>60%).

Recently, researchers have begun to devote special attention to the impact of broadband on the economic development of rural communities. Studies done by Brian Whitacre and Roberto Gallardo underscore the  impact of broadband adoption on the overall economic development of rural regions.

According to these studies, presented as part of a BroadbandUSA program webinar, in rural counties with “high levels of broadband adoption (60+%)” median household income rose over twice as quickly as it did in counties that were otherwise similar but had lower levels of broadband adoption.

The same study showed that in those counties with high rates of broadband adoption, unemployment levels grew at only one third the rate that they rose in similar counties with lower adoption

Job loss doubles in rural communities with low broadband adoption (<40%). rates.

In tandem with these findings, Whitacre and Gallardo also noted the negative consequences for economic development when broadband adoption rates are low. Here the studies show that almost twice as many jobs were lost in rural communities in which broadband adoption rates are low (<40%) than in similar communities with high adoption.

This data highlights the ways in which broadband adoptioncan have clear and positive impacts for rural communities. The time frame of the study (10 years) shows the rapid short term improvements to rural economic development that high rates of broadband adoption can bring.


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