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State-level broadband policies

October 16, 2021
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WRITTEN BY Joshua Mueller

Executive Summary

State-level broadband policies can determine where high-speed internet service is available, and who actually adopts broadband internet upon its deployment. Laws or regulations can influence broadband deployment by determining what sorts of state-imposed costs or project requirements apply to developers and providers, and what funding or incentives are available to support expansion of service. State programs and rules can also impact broadband adoption by influencing factors such as cost of service and community digital literacy levels. States across the U.S. have adopted a wide variety of broadband-related policies, but empirical research on strategies that reliably increase broadband availability and adoption is sparse.

 Highlights 

  • States have statutory and regulatory authority over many areas that can influence broadband availability and adoption, including internet-specific rules, funding/incentives, construction, dedicated programs and partnerships.
  • States vary widely in their approaches to facilitating broadband deployment, but the most well-studied determinants of broadband availability are the presence of a dedicated state broadband office, and dedicated state funds for expansion of service.

Limitations

  • There are very few up-to-date studies of state-level policies associated with increased broadband availability and adoption, so many analyses focus on case studies. Since states may differ in important ways, it is not clear that outcomes of case studies will always apply to states like Missouri.
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