Benedum Referenced in Federal Reserve Bank Report

Bringing Broadband to Rural America

Alexander Marré, Author
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

Community Scope, December 2020

High-speed broadband internet service has transitioned from a luxury good to an increasingly necessary utility.1 Rural regions are particularly susceptible to poor broadband infrastructure coverage, however, because they pose a costly business case for providers. The economic case for rural broadband infrastructure, though, is compelling despite its cost: Broadband access and adoption in rural areas is linked to increased job and population growth, higher rates of new business formation and home values, and lower unemployment rates. Unlike with many other types of infrastructure, the long-run benefits of broadband access could grow exponentially, given the potential for innovation and productivity gains it provides.2,3

In the near term, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrust the problem to the forefront of policy discussions. Employers are using remote work as a tool to protect the health and safety of their employees. Similarly, schools are offering online learning or hybrid approaches. Remote work and distance learning are difficult to achieve without a broadband internet connection at home that is fast enough to handle their audio and video requirements. At the same time, increased demand for online services during the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed speeds for those who have access.4

Read the full report here.