(Minneapolis, MN—March 10, 2014) In a tough economic climate, a new report affirms that government investments in broadband infrastructure spur business efficiency. Today the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report, Telecommunications: Federal Broadband Deployment and Programs and Small Business, finding that “improvements to broadband service have resulted from federal funding and the existence of municipally operated networks.” Specifically the report notes, “According to small businesses GAO met with, the speed and reliability of their broadband service improved after they began using federally funded or municipal networks.”
“Community owned networks offer local businesses the opportunity to thrive,” says Christopher Mitchell, of MuniNetworks.org and the Director of the Telecommunications as Commons Initiative for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, based in Minneapolis and Washington, DC. “Municipal networks have many benefits for communities, introducing real competition, lowering prices, and dramatically increasing reliable connections for small business.” In reviewing of over $15 billion of funding since 2008, the GAO report also affirmed that prices charged by federally funded and municipal networks were slightly lower than the comparison networks, and that they offer higher top speeds.
The new report was undertaken by the GAO to review programs that are intended to expand broadband access. Six programs were reviewed (the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP), Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program, Community Connect Grants, Connect American Fund, Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program, and Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program) and the report describes issues related to broadband availability, in particular for small businesses.
Since 1974, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) has championed local self-reliance, a strategy that underscores the need for humanly scaled institutions and economies, and the widest possible distribution of ownership. For more information, visit http://www.ilsr.org, or contact ILSR at 612.276.3456 x 209.
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