Wednesday, July 25, 2012

More evidence of the economic importance of broadband

Earlier this month, Techworld published an article questioning the extent to which slow and unreliable broadband is discouraging high-tech businesses from setting up shop in the UK, and potentially damaging London's economy. This was based on a press release published by the Greater London Authority about a report to the London Assembly's Economy Committee:
"Representatives of the capital’s businesses and academics told the Assembly’s Economy Committee  that London is lagging behind Seoul, Berlin, New York – and even Vilnius and parts of Moldova - when it comes to broadband speeds. They said slow and unreliable broadband meant that new start-ups would avoid London and set up elsewhere and existing companies, frustrated by slow speeds and poor service, are being driven out. Committee Members also heard that BT was taking far too long to set up broadband connections – in one case up to three months - meaning some companies had to use dongles so they could carry out day-to-day work.   BT denied the allegation, saying it took seven days, on average, to connect broadband in London."
The minutes of the discussion are available here. This follows on from London's Digital Economy,  a report published by the Authority in January 2012, drawing together a variety of data sources (such as the Broadband Quality Survey 2010to "highlight London’s position in the digital arena". For example:
"...UK broadband services enable users to “comfortably enjoy” the latest web applications but still lag some way behind the best in the world, such as those in South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan. The Survey scores London at 30, the same as Glasgow and one point higher than Birmingham. This compares to the winning city of Seoul that has an overall score of 73."
In the USA, Connect Iowa this month published a report  focusing on the critical link between jobs and broadband across the state, illustrating that broadband is critical to empowering Iowa's workforce. Key findings include:
  • Among businesses that use the Internet, 38% (or approximately 24,000 businesses) advertise job openings or accept job applications online.
  • Approximately 1,000 Iowa businesses only accept job applications online.
  • Nearly two-fifths (39%), or approximately 720,000, of Iowans search or apply for jobs online.
  • Rural Internet users are significantly less likely to use the Internet to search or apply for jobs. Forty-two percent (42%) of non-rural Iowa Internet users search or apply for jobs online, while only 35% of rural Iowa Internet users search or apply for jobs.
  • More than one-half of adults with annual household incomes of less than $25,000 (53%) go online and search or apply for jobs.
  • Approximately 57,000 Iowa businesses still do not utilize the Internet to attract and recruit new workers.
  • Approximately 149,000 low-income adults in Iowa use the Internet to search or apply for jobs online.
Finally, this FCC blog post describes a new initiative designed to address the low rate of broadband adoption by low-income Americans. Increasing access to broadband amongst such groups in turn increases access to jobs, education and economic opportunity.

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