Broadband transforms rural communities in at least 10 meaningful ways, according to new data from the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA), a coalition supporting ubiquitous U.S. broadband access and adoption. Based on analysis from several sources, including the Pew Internet & American Life Project and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the IIA points to ten major benefits.

Here are the Top 10 ways IIA thinks broadband helps rural communities:

  • It links local businesses to global markets.
  • It allows consumers to tap into e-commerce savings.
  • It expands access to educational opportunities.
  • It increases local job growth.
  • It connects patients to world-class healthcare and reduces healthcare costs.
  • It enhances economic options for younger generations.
  • It provides new tools to farmers and ranchers to grow their businesses.
  • It enables entrepreneurs to locate their businesses locally.
  • It attracts customers to local businesses.
  • It offers families low-cost options to stay in touch, using the latest technology.

In light of such benefits, the IIA also says it supports AT&T’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile USA, which it says would result in significant wireless Internet expansion to rural communities across the nation. IIA Honorary Chairman and former congressman Rick Boucher is championing the consolidation of the two wireless Internet service providers due to the improvements broadband would bring to rural areas like those in his home state of Virginia.

“The most direct and immediate way to connect large numbers of rural Americans to the benefits of broadband is through the combination of AT&T and T-Mobile,” Boucher declares. “The merger would bring 4G LTE, with wireless speeds rivaling the fastest wired connections, to more than 97 percent of the nation, including many of the hardest-to-reach areas. Policy makers should recognize the landmark achievement of universal broadband in America when weighing their decision.”

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