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Report: Broadband an economic driver vital to continuing recovery

Illustration courtesy of ZD Net

WASHINGTON (May 3, 2012) — U.S. businesses generate $411.4 billion in online sales to consumers or other businesses, yet an estimated 1.8 million businesses remain unconnected to broadband, according to a report released today by national nonprofit Connected Nation.

“The economic impact of broadband is far-reaching and immense,” said Connected Nation Chief Policy Counsel Thomas M. Koutsky. “But our research shows that there is a significant broadband adoption and use gap among businesses in many important areas of the economy.”

The report, titled “The 2012 Jobs and Broadband Report, National Projections On How American Businesses Use Computers and Broadband to Grow, Hire, and Thrive,” is based on surveys of 7,004 business establishments in Alaska, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

Among the report’s key findings:

• Nearly one in three businesses (32 percent) earn revenues from online sales. This translates into more than 2.4 million U.S. businesses.

• Broadband-connected businesses bring in approximately $300,000 more in annual median revenues than non-broadband adopting businesses.

• Connected Nation estimates that 4.4 million U.S. business establishments have websites, including more than 2 million businesses with fewer than five employees.

• Teleworking also continues to have an impact in the marketplace, with 24 percent of rural businesses and 35 percent of non-rural businesses currently allowing employees to telework or telecommute.

• Minority-owned businesses in the U.S. account for $49 billion in annual sales revenues from online sales (or 12 percent of total online sales in the U.S.). A large percentage of minority-owned businesses report using broadband to handle some or all of their business functions (79 percent, compared to 76 percent of all businesses on average).

The report also reveals how high-speed Internet service is changing how job creators and job seekers identify each other in the United States; approximately 2.5 million businesses in the United States currently use the Internet to advertise job openings or accept job applications. Notably, 139,000 of those businesses today only accept applications via the Internet. This number can be expected to grow over time and has drastic implications for the 23 percent of U.S. households today that currently lack a computer.

“These findings have important implications for all policymakers and business leaders,” said Connected Nation President and COO Tom Ferree. “Expanding broadband access, adoption, and use is a proven driver of economic growth and is vital to ensure the United States’ place in the global digital economy.”

For more than a decade, Connected Nation has worked to quantify the impact that increased broadband availability and utilization has on the economy. These efforts included statewide business technology assessments in Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio, dating back to 2007. Today, Connected Nation has programs spanning the U.S. that provide mapping analysis, research, community engagement, technical assistance and digital training to grow broadband adoption and access in underserved markets.