Industry Highlights: Municipalities - Broadband Fueling Economic Development

Written by Kristi Salmon on May 4, 2017.

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Municipalities and the Broadband Networks to Power Them

It’s hard to imagine what life would be like without the internet. For some of us, we do remember a time when we couldn’t access information in minutes or waited for the dial up tone to complete before we could get connected. Our new digital age has provided us the means to better communicate with others and has created more efficient productivity.

Businesses rely on technology to reach both customers and partners, enabling employees to work both in-house and remotely, and allowing for usage of next-level business applications to run faster and do more. But while many urban communities have access to all levels of internet speeds, some rural ones may not have the same luxury.

Municipalities and Broadband

Municipalities, urban administrative divisions of self-governing jurisdictions, are usually located on the outskirts of larger populations. These municipalities, because of their locations, may not be able to access the level of broadband that drives growth and progress.  Lack of reliable internet access can be detrimental to attracting businesses, and residents for that matter, reducing the ability for economic development to flourish. Generations Y & Z expect to be connected, they grew up on the internet – so in an effort to help recruit businesses, cities need to attract and retain young professionals for the community to grow.  Broadband is a key way to appeal to younger generations who want these high capacity speeds and are used to daily integration with technology.

Data from the National Broadband Map show that rural areas do have access to broadband, however their speeds have been shown to be 30 times slower than the national average. 75% of rural areas have access to connections of at least 10 Mbps versus 98% of those in urban areas, while only 61% of rural areas have access to 25 Mbps speeds compared to 94% of urban areas.

In terms of internet providers that are available, only a small percentage of rural areas have access to at least three providers versus the diversity of the urban population.

Helping Towns All Over the Country to Become Fiber Cities

How can rural areas advance the way their urban counterparts are? The simple way is to provide them with the same access to high-speed internet, with the same speeds – or better – in order to be more agile, productive, and efficient.  Broadband access makes the world a much smaller place, leveling the playing field for competition because it eliminates geographic boundaries. That’s why Mediacom Business has made the investment in the rural communities that we serve to bring the same level of internet access that one would expect in the largest of metropolitan areas.  Our fiber-optic broadband infrastructure capable of internet speeds of 10 Gigabit and beyond is the same technology found in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles.  And with our most recent announcement that Mediacom’s broader plan is to invest $1 billion over the next 3 years to, among other projects, upgrade and expand its national broadband network – this means our broadband network will be further deep rooted into our rural communities that span 22 states.

This commitment to our communities has had a positive economic impact, especially in key verticals like healthcare, education and finance.  As these community anchors venture into advanced platforms like telemedicine or e-learning curriculum – it enables residents to stay local and consume local versus traveling hours to a larger city. Within the state of Iowa, our fiber optic network leverages Gigabit+ level broadband to 323 communities, making Iowa the first Gigabit state in the nation. Our rural communities and municipalities now have the access to high-speed broadband that they may not have had with other providers who were not willing to make the investment.

Providing municipalities with this level of high-speed internet transforms businesses and their communities into progressive hubs of economic developments. The City of Grimes in Iowa, one of the fastest growing areas in the Des Moines Metro, understands how essential fiber-optic broadband is to any developing community.  They strive to work with Mediacom Business and like providers to put the infrastructure in place to drive growth into the community.  Businesses want to be in communities where the quality of life is high so they can attract quality employees. The Mid-West has become a hot bed for incubator spaces so startups can flourish and the region can be known for more than just cornfields – that success and sustainability comes from having adequate broadband access.