95 percent of Utah residents live in areas where broadband internet service is available, more than most other states. That’s among the findings of a new report from the non-partisan Utah Foundation, 21st Century Infrastructure: How Broadband Internet has Shaped and is Shaping Utah.
Public investment in systems such as UTOPIA, iProvo and the Utah Education and Telehealth Network (UETN) has contributed to the availability of broadband service (defined as data speeds of 25 Mbps or greater) across the state. Private enterprise such as Comcast, CenturyLink and Google have also had a major impact.
The report’s key findings include:
• The University of Utah was one node of the ARPAnet in 1969, which is considered to be a predecessor of the internet.
• Utah charted new ground with its municipal providers, including iProvo, Spanish Fork Community Network, and UTOPIA.
• The Utah Education and Telehealth Network is a backbone in helping schools – and their surrounding communities – get connected to broadband service.
• The Utah Department of Transportation has been a big partner in helping internet service providers lay new internet infrastructure.
• The public-private interplay in internet proliferation is continuing to develop, helping ensure that communities update transportation and internet infrastructure simultaneously.
• Utah is now home to two Google Fiber cities: Salt Lake City and Provo. This will help raise their stature as “connected” communities as well as increase competitive services from CenturyLink, Comcast, and others.
• US Ignite is looking toward Utah to develop a “metro internet” to increase internet speeds for 21st century applications.
“Most of Utah’s population is concentrated in urban areas,” said Utah Foundation Research Director Shawn Teigen. “That’s made it possible for service providers to build up their broadband infrastructure to the point that it reaches 98 percent of urban residents. Utah’s investment in the Utah Education and Telehealth Network, on the other hand, has made it possible for many remote communities to benefit from broadband internet as well.
Teigen continued, “However, there are some larger issues with broadband proliferation that we discuss in the report, including the digital divide and the appropriate level of governmental involvement, particularly given some of the challenges faced by municipalities.”
The report 21st Century Infrastructure: How Broadband Internet has Shaped and is Shaping Utah is available on the Utah Foundation website,www.utahfoundation.org.