iGR Paper Examines Transactional Value of the Internet in Rural America

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For Immediate Release
Contact: Kelly Wismer, 703-351-2015, kwismer@ntca.org             

iGR Paper Examines Transactional Value of the Internet in Rural America
Report examines differences in internet usages between urban and rural Americans and the economic impact of each group’s online activities.

Arlington, Va. (March 8, 2018)–Today, iGR released “A Cyber Economy: The Transactional Value of the Internet in Rural America,” a report commissioned by the Foundation for Rural Service (FRS). The report examines the nature and quantifiable value of online transactions, and draws comparisons between online usage habits among urban and rural consumers.

“Access to the internet is key to almost everything we do today—connecting us to education, healthcare, job opportunities, entertainment, and so much more,” said FRS Executive Director Jessica Golden. “I hope this paper helps emphasize that the connectivity and quality of life that we at FRS work so hard to advance are intertwined and should be of national importance. The rural and urban economies are co-dependent, and online transactions help to support both.”

“Our analysis shows just how dependent people, in both urban and rural economies, are on online transactions,” said Iain Gillott, president and founder of iGR, a market strategy consultancy focused on the wireless and mobile communications industry. “Traditional expectations may be that you would expect a lower level of internet activity in rural areas but this could not be further from the truth—consumers in rural areas are as dependent on online transactions as consumers in urban markets. This clearly shows the need for investment in broadband infrastructure in the future.”

Major findings of the report include:

  • Internet usage among urban and rural consumers is largely similar.
  • Rural consumers are responsible for approximately 15% of all consumer, internet-driven transactions annually, which equates to more than 10.8 billion online transactions altogether.
  • Internet-driven transactions make up nearly 50% of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) or $9.6 trillion annually. These transactions are estimated to grow to more than 65% by 2022, to $14 trillion per year.
  • The estimated value of rural online transactions is nearly $1.4 trillion—or 7% of GDP.

The report uses a survey of more than 1,200 U.S. consumers, as well as primary research, reports and forecasts, and data and statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and Federal Reserve. The report finds that rural and urban consumers utilize essentially the same types of broadband access, although urban broadband users tend to have greater access to fiber and cable-based services, and predicts that internet usage will likely increase over time. Funding for the report was provided by FRS.

The full white paper is available online.


The Foundation for Rural Service (FRS), in cooperation with NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association and its members, seeks to sustain and enhance the quality of life in America by advancing an understanding of rural issues. FRS is committed to advancing opportunities for economic development in communities through innovations in technology and telecommunications. Visit us online at www.ntca.org.

iGR is a market strategy consultancy focused on the wireless and mobile communications industry. Founded by Iain Gillott, one of the wireless industry's leading analysts, in late 2000 as iGillottResearch, iGR is now in its eighteenth year of operation. iGR continuously researches emerging and existent technologies, technology industries, and consumer markets. We use our detailed research to offer a range of services to help companies improve their position in the marketplace, clearly define their future direction, and ultimately improve their bottom line.