Even the smallest businesses want fast, reliable and competitively priced broadband now. My barber has 100 Mbps service in his one-man shop so he can run an online business on the side. Dollar stores couldn’t exist without access to a global market for surplus merchandise. Those are just two neighborhood strip mall examples. Every sector of the economy depends on broadband to maintain fast, real time connections to customers, suppliers, partners and data centers.
Broadband access distinguishes one commercial or industrial area from another. The businesses that you’ll find in any particular industrial park, for example, are mostly businesses that have learned to live within the limits of the available bandwidth. The ones that out grew those limits have, for the most part, moved out. Some are surviving by paying for expensive, custom-built connections from major carriers or by kludging together wireless links, but most don’t have the money, time or knowledge to do that.
Clusters of smaller startups and talented freelancers develop where Internet service is cheap and cheerful. And fast. A good example is downtown Santa Cruz. Eleven years ago, it was a ghost town. Then NextSpace opened the first modern co-working facility and Cruzio started pumping bandwidth anywhere that anyone wanted it. Freelancers and shoe string entrepreneurs showed up, then remote offices for Silicon Valley workers followed. Now you have big high tech companies and venture capital-backed startups crowding in. And rents and congestion are going up. So the next stop, 20 miles south, is Watsonville, where enquiries for high speed, industrial grade broadband facilities – again, dark fiber with redundant paths to Tier 1 exchanges – are at an all time high and growing (and being met, in some cases, by the City of Watsonville’s municipal dark fiber network).
Broadband is the primary limiting factor for economic development in California. It used to be that industrial plants located where power was abundant and inexpensive, and railroad connections were close by. Now, it’s all about broadband.