State Broadband Policy: Impacts on Availability
Telecommunications Policy. July 2020. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308596120301178
44 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2020
Date Written: July 30, 2020
We use a county-level panel dataset from 2012 – 2018 to assess the impacts of various state policies on total and rural broadband availability in the United States. The primary dependent variable is the percentage of residents with access to 25 Megabits per second (MBPS) download and 3 MBPS upload speeds via a fixed connection, with alternative specifications considering other aspects of availability such as technology type and competition. We control for the main determinants of Internet availability such as income, education, age, and population density. Our policy variables come from the newly released State Broadband Policy Explorer from the Pew Charitable Trusts and individual contacts from the nationwide State Broadband Leaders Network. Our primary policies of interest are those related to: (1) availability of state-level funding, (2) existence of a state-level broadband office / task force with full-time employees, and (3) restrictions on municipal / cooperative broadband provision. We find a positive and significant impact of state-level funding programs on general (and fiber) broadband availability, and a negative impact of municipal / cooperative restrictions. The findings are similar when the analysis is restricted to the rural portions of counties.
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