Learning What Broadband Ready Means for Hoosier Firms

Learning What Broadband Ready Means for Hoosier Firms

Over the last few months as more areas in Indiana attained Broadband Ready status, Building Indiana’s editorial team started getting curious about what kind of an impact it would have on business. How much can internet speeds affect economic development and what does Broadband Ready status mean for a community that earns it? We did some digging to learn more about what these things will bring to Hoosier companies.


Our Current Coverage

Many counties in Indiana still lack sufficient broadband coverage, defined as 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds. About 79.8% of Indiana’s population has access to wired broadband speed according to BroadbandNow data from early 2022, which uses FCC and ISP data to track internet availability nationally. That means about 666,000 Hoosier residents have no access to wired broadband speed. Multiple rural areas have no internet access at all. Our state ranks as the 21st-most connected state.


What are the Business Gains?

Broadband can be an important driver for business growth in several different ways, particularly because there are untapped markets all over Indiana.

“It is through expanded deployment [of broadband] that new markets for customers and talent open. A Purdue University study forecasts that quality broadband expansion in rural areas can provide $12 billion in net benefits to Indiana in just over 20 years. This economic influence is largely attributed to an increase in sales and market expansion of local businesses,” said officials with the Indiana Office of Broadband Opportunities.

Purdue’s study found that every dollar invested in broadband returns nearly $4 to the economy.

“We estimate if broadband investments were made in rural areas, $3.24 billion of the total net benefit of $12 billion would flow to the state and federal government through increased tax revenue and healthcare savings. Income and sales tax revenues would [also] increase,” said Purdue Agricultural Economics Professor Larry DeBoer.

On the national level, greater access to broadband speeds has been found to have a big impact on GDP and job growth. Researchers from Deloitte published a study about the economic gains last year.

“We found a strong correlation between broadband availability and jobs and GDP growth. A 10-percentage-point increase in broadband access in 2014 would have resulted in more than 875,000 additional US jobs and $186 billion more in economic output in 2019. That is an average of 175,000 jobs and $37.2 billion in output per year,” Deloitte’s authors said.


What Does Broadband Ready Mean?

The Broadband Ready status that many communities have been earning is a method of attracting telecommunications infrastructure investment. Several aspects of local government must be streamlined to earn the designation. Basically, the whole program is designed to make broadband projects a little easier to launch.

For example, communities must appoint a single point of contact for all broadband development projects. They must also allow for electronic submission of all applications and have a quick 10-day turnaround on approval or denial of documents. There are other requirements too, which essentially amount to less red tape for broadband expansion.


Recent Additions

Two major areas of Indiana that recently earned Broadband Ready status were Porter County and La Porte County. Both counties received their certifications early this year.

“This designation sends a clear message about La Porte County’s focus on addressing this complex issue which affects quality of life and our growth potential,” said Sheila Matias, president of the La Porte County Board of Commissioners. “Our volunteers on the La Porte County Rural Broadband Task Force are all pulling in the same direction and have contributed countless hours to move our community’s broadband analysis forward.”

“Becoming a Broadband Ready Community is an important part of expanding high-speed and reliable internet service to the rural areas of Porter County,” said Porter County Board of Commissioners President Jeff Good. “This designation cuts the red tape for broadband providers so they will be more likely to expand their services to schools, students, at-home workers, farmers, small businesses, and residents in unincorporated parts of the county.”

“It’s rewarding to see so many communities prioritizing their futures and reaping the benefits,” said Earnie Holtrey, project manager at the Indiana Broadband Office.


High Speed Growth

The addition of greater connectivity throughout the state will open a lot of new doors for businesses. Access to new markets, talent pools, and other resources are likely going to be highly sought by Hoosier firms well into the future, making the enticement of infrastructure improvements a big priority. As more communities become Broadband Ready and reduce some of the hurdles to investment, we’re sure to be seeing more companies opt to expand their service territories and bring these fresh opportunities to more business operations here in Indiana. That’s good news for job creators.