Increased broadband infrastructure would add a significant number of jobs to the economy
A new study says that Maine is lagging behind its New England neighbors in broadband accessibility and that without increased broadband depth, Maine will fall even further behind economically. This study shows that the broadband industry is strong and healthy in Northern New England. However, there are disparities among the 3 states that warrant attention. As measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employment and average compensation, Maine has the weakest Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) industries while New Hampshire has the strongest ICT industry with Vermont straddling the middle.
The study indicates that Maine’s broadband problem is the lack of higher-speed connections (over 3 mbps) with a subscriber ratio half of the U.S. average (15 percent versus 33 percent, respectively). New Hampshire (53 percent) and Vermont (49 percent) both have significantly higher subscriber rates for higher-speed connections.
Recent academic literature regarding the economic benefits of broadband show one consistent finding—increased broadband infrastructure will add a significant number of jobs to the economy. One study found that a rapid adoption of residential broadband ubiquitously would eventually add just over 1.2 million jobs to the American economy.
“Broadband access is such a major part of our lives and is vital to businesses operating successfully in the 21st century,” said the co-author of the report, Scott Moody, Chief Economist for The Maine Heritage Policy Center. “For Maine to be economically competitive and a place where businesses can flourish and hire new workers, quality, high-speed residential broadband must be available to everyone.”
Of the three economic impacts measured in the study—share of GDP, share of employment, and compensation per worker—Maine significantly lags behind the U.S. average, New Hampshire and Vermont. The study goes on to note that an increase in broadband access of just 7 percentage points would stimulate a half-billion dollars in economic growth and create or save nearly 11,000 new jobs in Maine.
“The facts are clear, increased broadband access means more jobs for Mainers,” said Moody. “If Maine doesn’t address the need for increased broadband depth with high-speed residential and business broadband, we will continue to fall behind our neighbor states economically, and creating new jobs will become even more difficult.”
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