Evidence provided in this report indicates that Erie County could directly benefit from the creation of a regional municipal broadband network, anticipating the average 1.1% growth in GDP (roughly $450 million in Erie County) from the creation of the network, as compared to other communities of its size. In addition, the creation of a regional municipal broadband network would have many indirect benefits to the economy including faster job growth, faster business growth, and increased property values.
The creation of a regional municipal broadband network was identified as a need by Erie County Legislator Patrick B. Burke whose resolution regarding the need to study the possibility of a Municipal Broadband Network was passed unanimously by the Economic Development Committee in 2014. Subsequently, the Municipal Broadband Committee was formed to identify the possibilities for, and potential value offered by, the creation of a regional municipal network.
From the outset, the committee identified several communities and geographies which are underserved by existing market-based broadband internet providers. Product packages offered by existing market-based providers underserve people in rural, economically disadvantaged, and geographically unprofitable communities called "dead zones" (areas where market-based providers will not expand due to a lack of desired return on investment). In all of these cases the service gaps in affordability, access, and speed are created by market price inefficiencies caused by low competition between market-based providers, and have left the economic and educational future of a significant portion of our region swinging in the balance.