Posted by: FBRuralDevelopment | 11/17/2010

SBA report: Small Businesses Want Broadband

The Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy released a report today called “The Impact of Broadband Speed and Price on Small Business.” Some of the findings include:

  • There is no single definition of what constitutes broadband service.
  • Businesses use the internet more (90%) than residential users (74%).
  • Small businesses want competition and choice in the broadband market.
  • There are statistically significant differences in availability, speed and price between urban and rural areas.
  • Approximately one-third of users need greater internet capacity than they currently have.
  • The broadband market usually offers few choices in any geographic area.

 The report was a congressionally mandated investigation into businesses’ Internet access across the nation.  According to the research summary, the “study was to include (1) a survey of broadband speeds available to small businesses, (2) a survey of the cost of broadband speeds available to small businesses, (3) a survey of the type of broad­band technology used by small businesses, and (4) any policy recommendations that may improve small businesses’ access to comparable broadband services at comparable rates in all regions of the nation.”

 The Telecommunications Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-104) established the development of competitive markets in which thousands of local carriers and  “Internet service providers (ISPs) came into being and began provid­ing Internet services that were innovative and com­petitively priced. . . In 2008, Congress enacted the Broadband Data Services Improvement Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-385) to ‘improve the quality of Federal and State data regarding the availability and quality of broadband services and to promote the deploy­ment of affordable broadband services to all parts of the Nation.’ As part of this effort, Congress sought to gather information on how small businesses were faring in the status quo. The current report is in response to this mandate.”

 The authors offered eight policy recommendations in their research summary:

1. Stay the course on national broadband plan­ning and implementation of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan.

2. Encourage and enable small business broad­band providers and other competitors by supporting their unfettered access to existing network infrastruc­ture.

3. Define future broadband speeds to meet small business application needs.

4. Provide small businesses with accurate, action­able data to make broadband purchasing decisions.

5. Protect small business consumers.

6. Consider creating federal broadband incentive programs focusing on small business.

7. Consider rural small business needs in Universal Service reform.

8. Consider efforts that expand small business broadband deployment and adoption.

Columbia Telecommunications Corporation of Kensington, MD authored the research report.

For the full 150 page report, click “The Impact of Broadband Speed and Price on Small Business.”

For further information, please contact Radwan Saade at (202) 205-6533 or advocacy@sba.gov.

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