Half of Americans lack the reliable internet access it takes to start a business in 2021. Biden’s infrastructure plan could change that.

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When Bryant Suellentrop left his office job to start a janitorial business, he didn’t dash off to buy a van-full of cleaning equipment and supplies.

He went to the web.

Using his digital marketing and web design skills, Suellentrop assembled an online profile for American Cleaning Enterprises (ACE) and added his business to Google Maps in Greenville, North Carolina.

Only after he had landed his first service contract did he invest in tangible equipment like a commercial-grade vacuum, cleaning chemicals, cloths, mop, and bucket.

A few years before the 24-year-old Suellentrop was born, Bill Gates famously said, “If your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business.”

But in spite of the internet’s importance, research from Microsoft puts the number of “people are not using the internet at broadband speeds” at nearly 163 million. A provision in President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan aims to get that number to zero.

After all, if it weren’t for the internet, ACE (and the jobs it’s creating) wouldn’t exist.

‘Broadband internet is the new electricity’

Electricity, phones, and fax machines were the essential tools for business in the 20th century — in the 21st, it’s broadband access.

“Broadband internet is the new electricity,” the Biden administration says in its plan to invest $100 billion in improving American connectivity.

Mike Botkin observed this when he acquired a landscaping business from an owner who had run the company for 30 years using only a fax machine and a voicemail service to receive customer inquiries.

Botkin saw that the company’s old-school approach was causing it to miss out on a massive growth opportunity in the rapidly expanding Orlando, Florida, lawn care market.

“A lot of those businesses are owned by an older generation,” he told Insider. “They’re living in techniques and processes from the 80’s.”

Not only did Botkin’s digital strategy instantly lead to increased monthly sales and quicker payments compared with the original owner, he landed crucial six-figure investment to purchase the business by sharing his pitch on Twitter.

25 million Americans lack access to reliable internet

Even the success of hands-on local service businesses like Suellentrop’s and Botkin’s depend on having reliable internet access.

Unfortunately for many would-be entrepreneurs across the US, bad internet access is a problem in rural and urban areas alike.

Census data show that much of the US lacks consistent access to broadband, most especially on tribal reservations and vast swaths across the Sun Belt where physical infrastructure is lacking. In several counties, more than half of households lacked broadband access.

Closer inspection of the map also reveals how urban centers in places like Washington, DC, and Chicago have markedly lower access than their surrounding suburbs. The cable and fiber may be in place, but if the cost is unaffordable, it may as well not exist.

Either way, that lack of access limits opportunities to grow successful businesses and create new jobs in new places.

The broadband improvements proposed in Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan are modeled off of the 1936 Rural Electrification Act, which helped lift …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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