The Broadband Digital Divide and the Economic Benefits of Mobile Broadband for Rural Areas
Pepperdine University, School of Public Policy Working Papers, Paper No. 41
46 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2013
Date Written: November 6, 2012
Broadband is becoming increasingly important to national economies and the personal lives of users. However, broadband availability and adopation are not diffusing in rural and urban areas at the same rates. This article updates the rural broadband digital divide, with special attention paid to mobility. Empirical estimations of broadband provision and usage in the US show that rural areas have fewer high-speed fixed and mobile providers but more slower-speed fixed providers than urban areas. While rural availability of mobile broadband is lower than in urban areas, it still helps fill in gaps in fixed broadband coverage in rural areas. The rural gap in fixed broadband usage remains, but the mobile broadband usage gap disappears after controlling for household demographics. The raw broadband usage gaps between rural and urban households are proportionally greater for low-income households. The potential for mobile broadband to benefit rural areas through economic development is also examined.
Keywords: broadband usage, broadband deployment, broadband diffusion, digital inclusion, censored Poisson estimation, rural development
JEL Classification: O18, L96, R22, R39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation