Rural Broadband Stimulus and Why Domain Investors Should Care
One of the things I have been surprised that I have not heard more domain investors discuss is the rural broad stimulus that has been approved and is being allocated to drive broadband penetration deeper into areas that have previously had only dialup or other slow Internet connections. With my previous background in Telecommunications I was aware of this and was working with companies that were looking to bid on grabbing a piece of the stimulus funds and could see how this would impact business in these communities that previously did not have easy, affordable and quick Internet access.
Well, many of the bids have been submitted for approval and will be awarded towards the end of this year. There is 7.2 billion dollars up for grabs to help build out this access, much of it will likely be over broadband wireless since in many areas it is not feasible to upgrade the in ground copper wires or do fiber to the home type services.
So what does all this mean to us as domain investors and developers, well it means that those users who previously had slow, little, or no access will suddenly have the want and ability to use the web how the rest of us have been doing for some time. One study I read for a rural region of my own state said that 68 percent of users had zero or only dialup access, they do not use the Internet in the same way we do as broadband users. It has been shown in those studies they use it less and much differently. These business owners in these areas will suddenly need to care about doing business online. Even if it is not a pure commerce site they will need some presence online to make sure their business is seen by their local community rather than the corporate competitor who has the budget to have a full online marketing budget.
Local search has been shown to be the fastest growing type of search online, that is only going to go deeper into the long tail as the rural communities come online. The users in these communities will start to search more frequently for services and products in their areas. There will be a new group of businesses nationwide that will suddenly start to understand or at least think about the value of category killer keywords in their domain names.
There will be many ways to work with these businesses and as a company that focuses on community based approaches to online marketing we hope to help these companies move online. We already have multiple seminars planned in regional centers around rural Missouri to start the training process. There are times where even if you are not selling there is value in educating the larger group on the value of how to work online now that the consumers around you have moved online in a more effective manner than in the past.