Connected Nation, which promotes the widespread use of broadband, said proposed legislation before Congress that calls for increasing broadband would provide economic stimulus similar to the boost expected to result from the recent economic stimulus package approved in Washington.
"The beauty of the broadband legislation currently in play in the midst of Farm Bill negotiations is that it would provide a jolt to the nation's economy in the near term -- to the tune that rivals the recent economic stimulus package," Connected Nation CEO Brian Medford said in a statement released Thursday.
In preparing its report, the Washington-based nonprofit extrapolated from the experience of Kentucky, where the state government mounted an aggressive -- and successful -- program to promote the spread of broadband.
Connected Nation noted that Kentucky's broadband effort resulted in an 83% rate of growth in broadband adoption, while the national rate was 57%. Connected Nation surveyed consumer savings in time, miles driven, and health care advantages and calculated the impact on job creation and retention in Kentucky.
Connected Nation noted that legislation to boost the spread of broadband in the United States has been bogged down. Current efforts to boost broadband are included in the Farm Bill, which is under consideration by Congress. Even if the legislation passes, the organization said many unserved rural areas are unlikely to get help.
In its calculations, Connected Nation said a 7% boost in national broadband adoption would also result in $662 million in savings in health care costs, $6.4 billion in annual mileage savings, 3.2 billion fewer pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually, and 3.8 billion hours of time saved by U.S. consumers.
Kentucky launched its aggressive "Prescription for Innovation" broadband deployment program in 2004 with a goal of spreading broadband usage in the state. The primarily rural state ranked near the bottom in residential Internet use and in proportion of high-tech businesses; the state's increased broadband deployment has resulted in several improved measures.