February 18, 2020
We understand that there is a correlation between access to high-speed fiber broadband networks and economic prosperity. And this makes sense: people living in communities with fast Internet access can take advantage of all of the economic and educational opportunities available online — and that’s not to mention the social, political, and healthcare opportunities afforded them, too. Recently updated research by the Analysis Group confirms this relationship between fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband network availability and gross domestic product (GDP).
This study confirms the findings of similar research conducted five years ago, which found a positive correlation between the availability of high-speed broadband and positive GDP. Today, that correlation holds in areas of significant FTTH availability. In the new study, researchers found that in communities in which more than 50 percent of the population have access to FTTH broadband with speeds of at least 1,000 Mbps, per capita GDP is between 0.9 and 2.0 percent higher than areas without fiber broadband. These differences are statistically significant.
These findings are not surprising to us, particularly since we already know that high-speed broadband can significantly reduce unemployment rates. In a 2019 study of 95 Tennessee counties by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Oklahoma State University, researchers confirmed this relationship: counties with access to high-speed broadband have an approximately 0.26 percentage point lower rate of unemployment compared to low-speed counties. They also concluded that early adoption of high-speed broadband could reduce unemployment rates by an average of 0.16 percentage points annually and found that counties without high-speed broadband have smaller populations and population density, lower household income, and a smaller proportion of people with at least a high school diploma.
Access to high-speed broadband, which is propelled by fiber deployment, is a great equalizer for many communities. It is the first step to bridging the digital divide and bringing equal economic opportunities to all, regardless of where they live. At the Fiber Broadband Association, we are proud to advocate on behalf of our members to connect the unconnected and to spur economic growth.
These two studies were funded in part by the Fiber Broadband Association.