Early studies on impacts of broadband computer networks on society mainly focus on offering expert opinions, forecasting future trends, and speculating about the potential of the technology. More recent studies attempted to assess the penetration rate of broadband by focusing on specific types of applications requiring high speed (Chang, Lee, & Middleton, 2004; Cohill, 2005a, 2005b; Lee, O'Keefe, & Yun, 2003). These studies also attempted to quantify the subscriber volume, which stands for the number and percent of customers purchasing the service. The studies have typically covered the “private sector business case” for broadband deployment and investments (Chang et al., 2004; Cohill, 2005a, 2005b; Lee et al., 2003). This has been especially the case in the United States where there is little public investment in the technology (NBUBRC, 2006).
Other studies went further in studying the business case by attempting to provide quantitative elements on either the return on investment in broadband infrastructure or the economic outcomes of subscribing to or using broadband technology. In other words, these studies attempted to assess either how much economic activity and further investment can be attributed to broadband expenses or how much savings have been achieved, how many jobs have been created, and so on. These attempts have faced challenges with data collection. Another major challenge was the issue of isolating the quantifiable impacts or changes that can be assigned specifically to broadband usage from those which are caused by other factors (Marlin & Bruce, 2006; NBUBRC, 2006). Shaw et al, (2005) revealed that, a positive attitude doesn’t essentially result to the wished behaviour.
Ruiz (2004) found that broadband access is an important part of enhancing rural community development in the United States, improving the economy, health care, and general quality of life.
A series of economic impact case studies have been conducted by the Strategic Networks Group (SNG projects) and their various partners across a number of rural communities and regions in Canada. Ruiz (2004) reported that the effects on the lives of rural Americans of limited telecommunication and information technologies, specifically the broadband Internet, has required the attention of economists, researchers, and government officials such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The report pointed out that rural areas cannot remain economically or culturally viable without the high-speed connection of broadband Internet. Indeed, without having the same telecommunications facilities, such as broadband, afforded to other parts of the world, rural communities suffer from inadequate social services, weakened businesses, and a deficient quality of life (Ruiz, 2004). One of the consequences of lack of those facilities is that young people move away from their smaller childhood towns to urban places that offer more opportunity (Platis, 2004). Moreover, small-town businesses cannot compete with urban businesses, and social programs, such as health and education, are negatively affected in rural communities (Bush, 2004) without technologies such as broadband Internet. Ruiz (2004) emphasized that many rural areas literally become ghost towns as people move to areas that offer greater work opportunities and education that take advantage of broadband technology. Because the increasing economic and cultural isolation of rural communities presents a social problem, the question of how to ensure that these areas have access to the broadband Internet begs an answer from the government (Ruiz, 2004).
In other case studies (Strategic Networks Group (SNG), EKOS, & Phoenix Strategic Perspectives, 2004), the monetary volume of investments in broadband technology were applied across a complex group of industries and then modelled for their direct and indirect...