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How high-speed internet can help spark community vitality

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How high-speed internet can help spark community vitality

Most Americans consider high-speed internet an essential household service. Yet in rural America, an estimated 25% of the population doesn’t have access to broadband, limiting their economic growth and access to career opportunities and resources such as education and health care.

The connectivity that expanding high-speed internet availability can provide creates opportunities, and some businesses are taking that mission quite seriously. For example, over the past year and a half, Cox Communications has expanded its fiber network to reach more than 55,000 households that were previously unserved or underserved.

Measuring the impact of access to high-speed internet is an important step in expanding availability and solving the digital equity problem. The 2023 Cox Expansion Impact Survey revealed 86% of customers with service for at least one month believe the service has improved their lives.

The survey also revealed three core areas where high-speed internet is changing lives for the better:

Retaining Younger Generations
As many young adults head off to college or leave their hometowns for better job opportunities, they contribute to shrinking rural communities. However, high-speed internet access can allow younger generations to remain in their communities with prospects of remote learning and working. In fact, 70% of survey respondents 30 or younger said they are more likely to stay in their communities if they can access a high-speed connection, and three-quarters of millennials and younger said they’re open to remote working opportunities, which makes staying in their communities possible.

By staying in their communities, rather than moving to urban areas to find employment, young adults are more likely to find affordable housing and less traffic. It also means the younger generation can stay close to the communities where they grew up, where their support network, including family members and friends, are nearby.

READ MORE: Minimize the risk of child identity theft

Driving Local Economic Prosperity
High-speed internet stimulates economic growth and businesses need it to succeed. When businesses do well and grow, their successes can have a multiplier effect on the local economy as residents have more job opportunities. In fact, the majority (53%) of survey respondents – including 75% of millennials and younger – feel more optimistic about their economic and employment future with the availability of high-speed internet in their communities.

Bridging Income and Education Gaps
For families without high-speed internet access, there are significant educational challenges, such as accessing educational resources available outside of their textbooks or classrooms, especially in lower-income households. Students lacking broadband often encounter difficulties completing homework, falling behind, receiving lower grades and sometimes even failing to graduate – potentially limiting career opportunities and future prosperity.

The majority of lower-income families surveyed (7 in 10) believe high-speed internet will improve their children’s test grades, and almost 90% said it will improve their abilities to apply to colleges or vocational schools after high school graduation. In fact, the survey revealed high-speed internet is twice as likely to improve the education of children in lower-income families than higher-income ones.

To learn more about the impact broadband has on rural communities, visit coxexpansionimpact.com.

(Family Features)
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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