From BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report
WASHINGTON, August 31, 2009 - The role of rural communities continues to play a major part in the debate over the state of the nation’s broad¬band with a new study finding that high-speed Internet access helps grow their economic base.
“Broadband Internet’s Value for Rural America,” a report http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/err78 put together by economists at the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service, compared counties that had broadband access by 2000 with similar regions that had little or no high-speed access. The authors found that rural communities with greater broadband Internet access had greater economic growth than areas with less access.
Employment growth was higher and non-farm private earnings were greater in counties that had broadband access for a longer period of time.
The study found that by 2007 most households (82 percent) with in-home Internet access had a broadband connection. There was a distinct difference between urban and rural broadband use. Seventy percent of rural households with Internet access at home had a connection compared to 84 percent of urban households at the time.
Broadband helped elevate the rural areas by providing online course and continuing education offerings as well as telemedicine and telehealth. The report also found that broadband allows rural areas to compete for low-and high-end service jobs, from call centers to software development. Additionally, the authors found that the farm sector is increasingly comprised of farm businesses that buy inputs and make sales online.