More broadband access would boost Va. economy, study says

Logging in to your personal home Internet account with broadband Internet access could help pump $14 billion into the Virginia economy as well as 32,000 new jobs, a new study finds.

The study by Citizens for a Sound Economy Freedom Works Foundation, an educational and lobbying organization, said that a complete broadband deployment would help boost jobs for the state in the high-tech sector, which saw a loss of about 19,000 jobs in 2002.

The figures nationwide for broadband stimulus would be 1.2 million jobs and $531 billion. Corresponding figures for North Carolina are 34,000 jobs and $13.4 billion in economic activity.

“There’s a couple stages,” said Wayne T. Brough, the report’s author and chief economist with the CSE. “The first is the direct effect of actually building and maintaining the infrastructure or Internet.”

That work, which Brough said would make up about 14,000 of the possible new jobs, involves building new lines in the ground and getting wires in people’s homes.

The next stages involve a ripple effect in which “people are demanding those services in their communities, which makes up the rest. And that gets you up to the 32,000 jobs,” Brough said.

Unfortunately, the future of broadband is clouded by regulatory and legal uncertainty, including issues from tax jurisdictions to intellectual property, the report said.

“There are a lot of companies looking at this market but are a little nervous about it,” Brough said. Once their fears are cleared, “I’m sure a lot of companies are willing to play.”

The report calls on policymakers to eliminate regulatory and legal uncertainties that inhibit the capital expenditures necessary to encourage full broadband deployment.

© 2003