October 20, 2006

Broadband For Ever West Virginian?

I often find myself in discussions concerning who has internet access in West Virginia. Well, here is some data from the Consumer Advocates Division's Director Billy Jack Gregg. (Thanks Mr. Gregg for sending them to me.) The numbers? Over 40% of WV online households have broadband. Good stuff...

...but, I can't help but wonder what would happen if we would provide a tax-credit to any West Virginian that has broadband? If every household (800,000) participated and it cost ([$30/month X 12] $360 per household, it would cost the state (at most) $228,000,000. If my math is right that would be about 2% of our state's $14 Billion in revenue.

Do you think providing the entire population of our state broadband internet access would increase our tax revenue base by 2%, or reduce healthcare costs by 7%?

To think about it even farther, if everyone was provided the means for having broadband, it would drive the service providers of West Virginians (local and state government, community organizations, and private companies) to become increasingly more efficient. Every health provider would have online records or risk losing to a neighboring provider who has it, every local organization would leverage the ability to communicate to a large audience through blogging and podcasting, not having to purchase high priced traditional communication channels. Public radio and television could leave the high cost models their current distribution channels. Principals and Teachers would quit saying to me, well that's a nice idea, but our parents don't have internet. Geotagging would become very popular very fast, providing increasingly more information for trade and services. Our beautiful mountains, that we love, would become increasingly less of a barrier to our communication throughout the state. And on and on it would go....

But the biggest return on investment would be education, bar none. The people of our state would gain access to knowledge and understanding that would quickly launch them into a whole new world of opportunity, support, and community. Access to degree programs, jobs, and quality of life improvements that are completely out of reach today.

OK... you are saying, Lee you are way over the top. Am I? I'd love to hear from you.

Note: There is one issue, that really drove me to get the slides. "The Last Mile." But I personally live in "the last mile" and I have satellite access for $60 a month. So we might have to tweak the numbers a bit.

Looks good. The only modification I would suggest is in your opening. The statement should say "Over 40% of WV on-line households have broadband." The total number of broadband households was around 200,000 at the beginning of 2006. This is 27% of the 736,000 total households in WV. There are about 420,000 on-line households: 200,000 via broadband; 220,000 via dial-up. We expect broaband to increase to 250,000 households by the end of 2006.
Billy Jack

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