Does Speed Matter? The Employment Impact of Increasing Access to Fiber Internet
Lapointe, Paul S
As internet technology continues to improve at a rapid pace, there is constant debate over the relative value of various internet connection technologies. In recent years, policymakers have debated over several important questions regarding broadband. What speed qualifies as high-speed broadband? How much public funding should be spent increasing access to broadband? And, what regulations to impose on internet providers? While the potential, and proven, benefits of high-speed internet are diverse, the economic impacts are often at the forefront of policy discussions. To date, most research into the economic impact of internet has focused on increasing access to and adoption of broadband internet in general, without emphasizing the speed of the broadband connections. This paper utilizes new data available as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to examine the relationship between employment growth and access to fiber internet, currently seen as the gold standard of internet connections in terms of speed and reliability. Using data from the National Broadband Map, this study finds a positive association, within the United States, between increasing access to fiber and increases in employment and number of firms at the county level. This positive relationship provides evidence to policymakers that promoting access to fiber internet is a viable economic development approach.
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