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The Benefits of Broadband – June 2011 Bandwidth Report

The Broadband Commission for Digital Development was created to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals by the target date of 2015, as set by the United Nations. Towards that end, it is essential that countries everywhere are enabled with widespread broadband to reap the economic and social benefits of broadband. This article explores the benefits that broadband brings.

What are the Benefits of Broadband?

Broadband has been shown to beneficial to the economy in a number of ways. Widespread broadband has been shown to increase jobs, GDP, the employment growth rate, and productivity. Broadband benefits the lower to middle-income brackets more than higher-income brackets, providing a boost of 1.38 additional percentage growth to GDP for every 10-percentage-point increase in broadband penetration, according to a 2009 study by the World Bank (see Figure 1).

GDP Rise versus increase in technology

Figure 1: How Investing in Broadband Can Boost Economies
Source: BroadbandCommission.org

Broadband’s Multiplier Effect

What happens when you upgrade the infrastructure to spread and speed up broadband networks? Direct and indirect effects are seen in a country’s employment and GDP (see Table 1).

Table 1.1: Employment Impact of Broadband Network Construction in Selected Economies
Country Investment (USD millions) Employment Creation (number of jobs Multiplier
Direct Indirect Secondary Total Type 1* Type II**
United States 6,390 37,300 31,000 59,500 127,800 1.83 3.42
Switzerland 10,000 80,000 30,000 N.A. 110,000 1.38 N.A.
Germany 47,560 281,000 126,000 134,000 541,000 1.45 1.98
United Kingdom 7,463 76,452 134,541 211,000 2.78
Note: * (Direct + Indirect)/direct; ** (Direct + Indirect + Secondary)/direct
The interrelationship of these three effects is measured through multipliers, which quantify the total
employment change throughout the economy from one unit of change on the input side. Source: The Broadband Commission Report #2, June 2011.


The benefits of widespread broadband are many, including faster job growth, higher GDP growth rates, and employee productivity. Every dollar invested in broadband has a multiplier effect on job creation. This multiplier effect can be as high as 3.4 to 1, according to the commission’s report.

Further Reading

Broadband: A Platform for Progress, Second Report
The second report from the Broadband Commission provided the data used in this report. Published June 2011.