Working every day with broadband providers across rural America, we have the privilege of seeing the impact they are making on their communities at a micro level. A study released this week by our friends at the Fiber Broadband Association gives us a macro look at broadband’s cumulative effect.

“This year’s U.S. Consumer Research Study highlights the breadth and magnitude of demand and the positive community impact of fiber broadband deployment,” FBA President and CEO Gary Bolton says. “As every American become connected with future-proof fiber broadband, consumers and businesses will begin to leverage the amazing future that is in store for all of us, closing the digital equity gap once and for all.”

The Status of U.S. Broadband and The Impact of Fiber Broadband (PDF) report breaks down broadband’s impact across five key areas.

1. Digital Equity

  • Lowest density zip codes have service levels with 1/3 the bandwidth of high-density areas
  • 58% of broadband adopters in the past 4 years are low income
  • 37% of broadband adopters in the past 4 years are non-white households

2. Performance

  • Fiber has 45% faster download and 4.7x faster upload speeds than cable
  • Fiber has reduced the cost per bit by 90% over the past decade
  • Fiber has half the latency (reaction time) of cable
  • Fiber providers’ Net Promoter Scores are significantly better

3. Sustainability

  • Fiber delivers 20% more carbon savings than DSL (digital subscriber line) and 40% more than cable HFC (hybrid fiber-coaxial)
  • Overall, fiber shows the highest net reduction in carbon based on transmission itself and the impact of enabling work from home

4. Economic Impact

  • 47% of rural moves are to areas with fiber
  • Over $78 million per year of additional primary revenue from home-based businesses could be gained from an FTTH community of 100,000 households

5. Quality of Life/Personal Productivity

  • 72% of consumers rank broadband as very important
  • Broadband is a top three attribute for selecting a community (in addition to safe streets / low crime and affordable living)
  • Homes with fiber have better access to healthcare and education

The fact that really jumped out at me was 47% of rural moves are to areas with fiber.

This aligns with what I’ve been hearing from real estate agents who say they’ve seen a significant increase the past few years in potential buyers asking about the availability of broadband early in the search process. During last week’s webinar, How to Find Community Champions for your Story, Pioneer’s team of storytellers shared examples of how TVIfiber and other utilities partner with local real estate agents to highlight homes with fiber access. It’s a great example of meeting community needs with solutions-based storytelling.

I’ve been communicating about internet access in rural American for a quarter century. I remember creating ads for clients to announce their new “blazing fast 56k” dial-up speeds. No one could have imagined the impact connectivity would have on our lives — nor could anyone have imagined the investment that would be made in building broadband to the entire country.

According to the FBA, nearly $130 billion in federal, state, and local subsidies are being invested in rural broadband. That’s a pile of money. And if the trends in the FBA’s  study continue, it will be money well spent to ensure all of America has access to a broadband network.

View the FBA’s report here, and watch a recording of an August 31 FBA webinar where Gary joined FBA Vice President of Research and Workforce Development Deborah Kish, RVA CEO Mike Render, and Chair of FBA’s Technology Committee John George to unpack the details of the study and what the results mean for broadband’s future.

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