Broadband Means Jobs for Iowa
Dubbing it the “critically important to economic progress,” Iowa Governor Terry Branstad Tuesday unveiled an effort to “Connect Every Iowan” to high-speed broadband. The Governor announced he was convening a new advisory panel to report back recommendations for Iowa lawmakers on expanding broadband. Iowa still has work to do to ensure its economy gains its maximum potential from broadband Internet; nearly 30 percent of Iowans still do not subscribe to broadband services, despite the overwhelming majorities that have access to wired or wireless broadband options. By focusing on adoption, the Governor would make the most of ongoing private investments in broadband networks and help Iowa’s economic potential.
The gains in broadband adoption have simply been staggering, and the evidence for its connection to economic empowerment undeniable. In the year 2000, 90 percent of Americans used dial up; today, more than 85 percent of households have access to broadband networks capable of Internet speeds at 100 Mbps or higher. Today, the app economy alone employs more than 750,000 Americans and there more than 6 million jobs supported or created by the broadband Internet and related ICT industries. Most important, however, is that those gains have been driven by private investment: $1.2 trillion was invested in broadband networks from 1996 to 2011 and $70 billion was invested in 2010 alone.
Thankfully, the glass is indeed more than half full. Iowa is already gaining from increasing broadband build out and adoption. As the Des Moines Register’s Marco Santana profiled in July, Iowa is home to many of Broadband for America’s Faces of Innovation members, “Five of 21 of the inaugural group of ‘Faces of Innovation,’ a project that aims to highlight the nation’s ‘hottest Internet innovators’ and showcase the need for fast, reliable broadband networks, hail from Iowa.” Iowa is increasingly proving itself to be a hotbed of 21st Century innovation, and it’s been powered by private investment enabled by a light-touch regulatory approach by state and federal government alike. Governor Branstad himself has previously acknowledged Faces of Innovation to his supporters. Hopefully, the example of Faces of Innovation will continue to shine in Iowa.