This study aims to assess the economic benefits of high-speed broadband within and across neighboring counties in Germany. Utilizing a balanced panel dataset of 401 German counties with data from 2010 to 2015 as well as different panel estimation techniques, we find that an increase in average broadband speed has a significantly positive effect on regional GDP in the average German county. Furthermore, we find that broadband deployment in German counties induces not only substantial economic benefits in terms of direct effects within counties but also positive regional externalities across counties. According to our estimation results, an increase in average bandwidth speed by one unit (1 Mbit/s) induces a rise in regional GDP of 0.18%. This effect is almost doubled if we also take regional externalities into account (0.31%). Moreover, we find that regional agglomeraton effects are of particular relevance for rural counties. Our cost-benefit analysis of subsidies based on conservative estimates suggests efficiency gains, as the total economic per capita benefits (€164) of subsidy programs to encourage broadband expansion exceeded their associated per capita costs (€114).

Keywords

High-speed broadband infrastructure, economic growth, spatial externalities, German counties, panel data