Economic Research Report No. (ERR-78) 70 pp

August 2009

Broadband Internet's Value for Rural America

As broadband-or high-speed-Internet use has spread, Internet applications requiring high transmission speeds have become an integral part of the "Information Economy," raising concerns about those who lack broadband access. This report analyzes (1) rural broadband use by consumers, the community-at-large, and businesses; (2) rural broadband availability; and (3) broadband's social and economic effects on rural areas. It also summarizes results from an ERS-sponsored workshop on rural broadband use, and other ERS-commissioned studies. In general, rural communities have less broadband Internet use than metro communities, with differing degrees of broadband availability across rural communities. Rural communities that had greater broadband Internet access had greater economic growth, which conforms to supplemental research on the benefits that rural businesses, consumers, and communities ascribe to broadband Internet use.

Keywords: Internet, broadband, high-speed Internet, rural economies, rural economic growth, digital economy, telemedicine, rural, urban, Census data, June Agricultural Survey, Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS)

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