Broadband has become quite a buzzword for anyone who accesses the internet, and today, that’s just about everyone. E-mail, gaming, e-commerce, cloud-based business applications, on-line banking, distance learning, streaming home entertainment, home security, Telecommuting, and telemedicine all depend on reliable access to the internet.
When considering potential locations, businesses, homeowners, schools, and medical institutions — having come to depend on broadband — consider its availability in much the same way we think about utility access and infrastructure. Current data assessing the impact of broadband installations indicates increases in home values as well as improved economic climate in the delivery footprint.
In rural areas that are typically difficult to serve, broadband and high speed data transfer have an even greater impact on economic development and quality of life.
Broadband for Small and Home Based Businesses
According to Forbes Magazine, over 50% of the current working population in the United States works in a small business setting. Of these 28 million small businesses, the Small Business Administration (SBA) estimates that 22 million are non employer businesses meaning that they are individuals operating the businesses with no paid staff. More than half of those businesses operate out of proprietors’ homes. All indicators suggest that this is a continually increasing trend. Becky McCray, contributing writer for SmallBusiness.com, discusses trends in rural and small town business in Small Town Business 2014 ultimately emphasizing the importance of broadband connectivity to the rural economy.
Aging at Home and Telemedicine
Maine Senator Angus King recently facilitated a round-table discussion to emphasize how telehealth services help improve access to health care for seniors, particularly in rural areas,who may have a difficult time traveling to healthcare centers; how it enables aging in place; and its potential to lower health care costs by facilitating more efficient use of resources.
“Telemedicine has the potential to revolutionize the way we deliver health care in America. Right here in Maine, we have seen how new telehealth technologies are helping to connect people to their doctors without even leaving their home,” Senator King said.
He also notes that for telehealth to maximize its social and economic benefits, health care providers and patients all need sufficient broadband connectivity.
These are just 2 examples of the impact of broadband to rural communities. Every municipality has its own vision for future growth, and with current and future business trends, access to broadband can have a significant impact on those visions.
At the summit, the Gray New Gloucester Development Corporation, through a presentation from OTELCO, hopes to provide a clear understanding to local business owners and municipal officials of broadband’s role as it relates to future municipal planning.
The GNG Summit on Broadband is open to business owners and those considering bringing a business to Gray or New Gloucester.