Recently, broadband industry analyst Craig Settles published the results of a survey conducted with International Economic Development Council (IEDC) on how economic development professionals view broadband. In all, 365 senior managers and staff in economic development departments or agencies responded.
A large majority of respondents believe that broadband has an impact on development - either directly or indirectly. Sixty percent believe it attracts business and 66 percent think it affects local companies. A similar number believe broadband has an effect on home businesses.
Broadband development can help individuals in need. Settles said that among respondents:
- 46 percent believe broadband can improves job skills and professional development
- 25 percent think it can help transitions to new industry or profession
- 17 percent think it can improve educationally
- 11 percent believe it helps get a new job
In any case, as Settles says in the report's summary, the kind of broadband makes a difference. "Fiber," he says, "continues to outshine wireless in terms of expected impact on economic outcomes..."
But Settles says that broadband alone is just, "a lever for change, not a magic wand." The report makes that clear:
"...significant percentages of respondents say broadband adoption doesn't mean jack if there are not programs in place to support workers, entrepreneurs and small businesses who get broadband access."
In short, broadband is necessary for economic development, it's just not sufficient.
Getting beyond the magic broadband bullet theory (Gigaom, Oct. 27, 2012)
Moving the Needle Forward on Broadband & Economic Development (Craig Settles report, Oct. 11, 2012)