Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Broadband and jobs

I'm not a technological determinist. I don't believe that actions in the economy automatically follow from technology decisions.

It is a reason to be sceptical of cost-benefit analysis or any economic study that tries to imply that broadband or the internet "causes" certain economic benefits.

Equally any reasonable approach to economics recognises that the economy is not totally malleable - when you push into it at one point something will stick out somewhere else. So talking about "job creation" or "job losses" from one action is often stupid.

That said thanks to a retweet of a blog post by Kim McDonald today I stumbled on the Internet Innovation Alliance and their 10 facts about broadband and jobs and its associated press conference. They even have a state by state (USA) guide to the impact of broadband.

Interesting related work is a Deloitte report on the impact of 4G mobile on the US economy.

It is actually impossible to tie down direct future relationships between technology or investments and outcomes. If it were we wouldn't have Governments, just centralised economic planners.

What it is far easier to do is a "with and without" test. What are the prospects for a 21st century economy with ubiquitous high speed broadband and what are the prospects without? The short answer is that the former is clearly more adaptable and can adjust is production to match demands, the latter will be highly restricted in the opportunities it can pursue.

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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