The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) released a study today detailing the benefits of creating a statewide high-speed telecommunications network.
The study, performed by Gartner Consulting, an international information technology consulting group, showed that accelerating the build out of a statewide broadband infrastructure in Michigan would result in an increase in Michigan’s gross state product of $440 billion over the next 10 years, compared to the increase that would otherwise be expected if the broadband network is allowed to expand at its present rate.
A comprehensive statewide broadband network would also result in 497,000 more new jobs for the state over the same time period.
“This study makes a side-by-side comparison of what Michigan will look like if we pursue an accelerated broadband deployment plan, versus what it will look like if we allow the network to continue developing at its present pace,” said Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.“The difference is staggering. It is apparent that an accelerated broadband build out would make a huge difference in Michigan’s economy and employment picture.”
Behram Dalal, vice president of Gartner Consulting, agreed with Rothwell’s assessment.
“A comprehensive, statewide broadband network will have exponential benefits for Michigan in the new Internet-based economy,” he said“Broadband deployment will be the primary force of change if Michigan is to transform itself into an information society leader.”
Michigan is behind other U.S. markets in broadband availability and will fall farther behind in the future unless alternative steps are taken, according to the Gartner study.For example, Michigan’s incumbent telecommunications provider per-line investment was the lowest in the nation in 2000 and 2001.In addition, Michigan ranked 24th in the nation in the growth rate of deployed broadband lines.
“The fact remains that Michigan ranks in the middle of the pack when it comes to the availability of high-speed access and future projected telecommunications growth,” Rothwell said.“We cannot settle for an average ranking. In order to supportour state’s prominence in the new technology-driven economy, we must also be a national leader in broadband availability.”
Ken Kozminski, president, IPC Communication Services, Inc. located in St. Joseph, detailed the importance of wide spread broadband availability to his company.
“The ability to attract and retain technology people in our area is a real need.Without connectivity, many of our employees will relocate out of the state to Indiana where they can connect,” Kozminski said.“This is even more critical for our employee’s spouses who may be employed in another area of the country, but with connectivity can live in Michigan and work from home.”
Fred Joyal, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at Northern Michigan University, pointed to the importance of widespread high-speed access for Michigan’s university students.
"There is a growing disparity between students who have high-speed Internet access and those who don't," said Joyal. "While the benefits of access to schools and students are compelling, it is evident that the telecommunications companies see little financial justification for expanding their high-speed networks to remote parts of Michigan.Unless the state takes an active role in creating a comprehensive broadband system, thousands of students in the Upper Peninsula will find it very difficult to prepare for and participate in rapidly expanding Internet-based learning opportunities."
The following associations also see the benefit of accelerating the build out of a statewide broadband infrastructure network:Merit Network, Inc., Cyberstate.org and the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan.
The MEDC is a partnership between the state and local communities, promotes smart economic growth by developing strategies and providing services to create and retain good jobs and a high quality of life.To view the complete study on the Michigan Economic Development Corporation website click here.