VICE interviewed Christopher Mitchell, Director of ILSR's Community Broadband Networks initiative, to get his perspective on a new study that shows high-quality broadband access lowers unemployment rates in communities. His contributions are below:
Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, told Motherboard that EPB not only drove higher employment via its own operations, but also likely contributed to an increase in hiring by regional private ISPs forced to do something arguably alien to them: compete.
“AT&T and Comcast have probably increased their sales staff and local employees to deal with the competition,” Mitchell said. “So that is an impact on unemployment just among the firms offering broadband services.”
Mitchell conceded that measuring the economic and employment impact of better broadband can be difficult, but said there’s no doubt that the city’s foray into broadband provided profound benefits to the region as a whole.
“I think this field of study is quite complicated but we know that Chattanooga has attracted many new companies to the Gig City precisely because the city has built the infrastructure of the future,” he said. “If it did not increase employment opportunities, that would be shocking.”
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