When it comes to widespread internet access, some countries in the world are not as advanced as others. South Africa, for instance, only reported that 10% of its population had access to the internet in 2009, though that figure has increased to around 50% in recent years. Countries like the United States, home to some of the world’s most successful technology companies and streaming services, are rarely grouped with those countries seen as under-performing in this area. However, some states in the US are still experiencing a digital divide, including Maryland.
The Digital Divide In Maryland
In January 2021, the Abell Foundation discovered that over 500,000 households in Maryland are not subscribed to wireline broadband services. For perspective, that means roughly 23% of residents in Maryland lack reliable, high-speed broadband internet at home. These figures come years after Maryland Governor Larry Hogan first promised high-speed internet access to rural counties.
In the day and age of work-from-home, this lack of reliable internet can have a significant impact on our careers and, therefore, income. The state recognizes this, though, as, in August 2021, Governor Hogan announced the launch of a new initiative called Connect Maryland. As part of the new initiative, $100 million will be invested to expand broadband access across Maryland. This $100 million is beside the $300 million investment first announced in March; Governor Hogan hopes to have universal access in the state by no later than 2025. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the industries that are set to benefit from improved connectivity.
The eCommerce sector can expect its revenues to increase as Maryland enjoys increased internet connectivity. As past studies have found, there is indeed a direct correlation between internet speed and the amount users spend on eCommerce platforms. For instance, according to an Adobe Analytics report, smartphone users spent more money in 2015 each time they visited an eCommerce website on their phones. During this timeframe, the amount of time these users spent on these websites dropped 10%. That was a clear indication to researchers that overall internet speeds improve site speed, enabling consumers to access eCommerce sites quicker while spending more due to the flexibility and accessibility that online shopping brings. Faster internet speeds will also encourage more individuals to use mobile payment systems, one of the biggest trends in eCommerce.
Additionally, online gambling revenues may increase as internet access in Maryland does. The United States already has a thriving online gambling industry, with fantasy sports betting one of the most popular types of gambling. According to Statista, the United States’ fantasy sports sector accounted for around $8 billion in 2020. Traditional sports betting is also popular in the US, from wagering on the NFL to the MLB. Considering Maryland is a sports-centric state, home to both the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens and the MLB’s Baltimore Orioles, faster access to online sportsbooks will likely cause online gambling revenues in the state to increase.
With faster internet speed, players in Maryland can find out which casino offers the best casino bonus with just a few clicks of a button. BetMGM, for example, offers up to a $1,000 bonus. They also offer wagering on the NFL and MLB, and, as we know, these are two leagues Maryland has teams competing in. More reliable access to online casino review sites will enable prospective players to find the best casinos available in the US faster. As a result, they will spend more money quicker; this could cause the market share to increase earlier in the year than it would when players are trying to find these casinos with unreliable internet connectivity.
Live Streaming And Music
Live streaming may also increase if there is more internet connectivity in Maryland. For instance, Maryland has several famous venues, including Baltimore Soundstage and Rams Head Live! These venues could host virtual events, which would benefit the users streaming these concerts and help the venues grow their online footprints. That is something every industry has to do today, and an increase in live-streamed concerts could be a win for Maryland’s online and traditional economy.
With all of the advancements in technology over the past two decades, it seems hard to believe that any Western country would still lack universal access to things like fast and reliable internet access. Alas, Maryland was the exception, though the state and Governor Larry Hogan are making the necessary moves to change this reality through its $400 million initiative to boost Maryland’s internet connectivity.