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Research Study Shows NTIA Broadband Grants Provided Billions in Economic Benefits

January 14, 2015
News Media Contact
Juliana Gruenwald

WASHINGTON  –  The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a new independent research study today showing that its broadband grants program resulted in billions of dollars in economic benefits to the communities served, including increased economic output and higher levels of employment.

The four-year study, prepared by the research firm ASR Analytics, examined the social and economic impacts of the $4 billion in Recovery Act grants awarded by NTIA to expand broadband access and adoption across the country through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). In communities where grantees built new broadband infrastructure, broadband availability grew by an estimated 2 percent more than in communities not served by a broadband grantee. That growth could be expected to translate into increased economic output of as much as $21 billion annually, the report concluded.

We’ve seen firsthand the transforming economic and societal impact that broadband has on communities across the country,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling. “The study released today captures only an early picture of the economic impact of our broadband grants. As more and more providers take advantage of Recovery Act-funded networks, we fully anticipate that the impact will be even greater.”

NTIA is at the forefront of federal efforts to ensure that all Americans share in the promise and potential of the digital economy. NTIA today also unveiled its Broadband USA initiative aimed at finding new ways to assist communities seeking to build their broadband capacity to advance economic development.

NTIA contracted with ASR Analytics to provide an independent assessment of the social and economic impacts of BTOP. ASR Analytics’ final report summarizes and synthesizes the findings of 42 separate case study reports, two interim reports, and a short-term economic impacts report. In conducting its review, ASR conducted 42 site visits with 27 different BTOP grantees between July 2011 and November 2013. 

Key findings of ASR’s final report include:

  • On average, in only two years, BTOP grant communities experienced an estimated 2 percent greater growth in broadband availability than non-grant communities, which is estimated to generate increased annual economic activity of between $5.17 billion and $21 billion.
  • The additional broadband infrastructure provided by BTOP could be expected to create more than 22,000 long-term jobs and generate more than $1 billion in additional household income each year.
  • Community anchor institutions, like schools and libraries, served by BTOP infrastructure grantees in the sample experienced significantly increased speeds and lower costs. As an example, the median price paid by libraries in the sample was $233 megabits-per-second (mbps)/month before BTOP, at a median speed of 3 mbps.  As a result of the grant, the median price dropped to $15 mbps/month and median speed increased to 20 mbps.

Under the BTOP program, NTIA awarded 233 grants benefitting every state, as well as five territories and the District of Columbia, to build network infrastructure, establish public computer centers, and develop digital literacy training to expand broadband adoption.  

To date, BTOP grantees have built or upgraded more than 113,000 miles of fiber and connected nearly 25,000 community anchor institutions. BTOP grantees also have established or upgraded 3,000 public computer centers, delivered more than four million training hours and helped roughly 735,000 households sign up for broadband.

About NTIA

NTIA, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is the Executive Branch agency that advises the President on telecommunications and information policy issues. NTIA’s programs and policy making focus largely on expanding broadband Internet access and adoption in America, expanding the use of spectrum by all users, and ensuring that the Internet remains an engine for continued innovation and economic growth.