Media Briefing on Broadband & Mobility

November 23, 2008

New Survey Shows Muni Networks Impact Economic Development

Filed under: Municipal broadband — Craig Settles @ 10:24 pm

Nov 21st I launched my 2008 national survey of economic development professionals to gauge their assessment of the impact of municipal wireless and wired networks on economic development, and early results are in. I will present a final report to the technology policy group of President-elect Obama’s transition team in mid-December, and also make it available to the general public. 

Sponsored for the second year by the International Economic Development Council, this year’s survey addresses three areas:

  1. the impact of citywide and regional broadband networks on economic development;
  2. the influence of wireless and wired networks that just cover commercial zones or districts within a city: and
  3. how muni or community broadband affects personal economic development and individual entrepreneurship within underserved communities. 

The survey cutoff date is December 4, but there are some interesting trends unfolding from the nearly 200 people who’ve already completed the survey. Other executives and managers of economic development organizations are encouraged to take the survey online.

Some early results

Wired municipal networks, predominately fiber, appear to have the edge over wireless networks in improving local economic development. This is true both for the value that professionals have observed in areas where networks are in place, and the value survey respondents expect to see in areas where these networks have yet to be built.

  • 19% of cities and counties of those surveyed have wired networks that businesses can access, as compared to 3% whose areas have wireless networks.
  • 7% of survey respondents say their cities or counties are currently building a wireless network and an equal percentage says wired networks are being built in their areas.
  • 41% of respondents believe their wired networks have directly or indirectly enticed new businesses into the area, while 31% of those with wireless networks feel the same.
  • 45% with wired networks believe these directly or indirectly influence businesses to stay, and 34% feel this way about their wireless network.
  • 42% believe wired networks help their local businesses be more competitive, and 25% believe the same about their wireless networks.
  • An almost equal number of survey respondents believe their wired (22%) and wireless (20%) networks will revitalize depressed business areas.

Keep an eye on my blog in December for the complete survey results and my analysis of the personal as well as business economic development changes muni networks can stimulate. In the meantime, you can get a copy of last year’s survey report.

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