Reliable internet now “More important than affordable childcare”

A new study conducted on behalf of global Internet Exchange operator, DE-CIX, has revealed significant trends in remote working preferences, migration factors, and the pivotal role of Internet reliability in the lives of Americans. The Censuswide nationally representative study, which surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. adults last month, highlights the changing dynamics in workplace requirements and residential choices influenced by digital connectivity.

DE-CIX’s latest research sheds light on a shift towards remote work that could redefine traditional employment and urban demographics. The study shows that nearly half (44%) of Americans would consider relocating if they could maintain their current job remotely, or secure a remote role. This sentiment is strongest among younger Americans (18–24 years old), with nearly 7 in 10 expressing a desire to move and work remotely from a different location, compared to just a fifth of those aged 55 and above.

Businesses need to prepare for a future where remote work is not just a temporary adjustment but a permanent fixture in our professional landscape. "Our study indicates that the younger generations in the workforce—particularly Gen Zs — place a high value on flexibility and mobility, elements that will shape future workplace policies and urban planning of digital infrastructure," said Ivo Ivanov, CEO of DE-CIX.

Internet Reliability Over Childcare

Another surprising insight from the study is the value placed on reliable Internet access, rated more important than affordable childcare by the average U.S. parent when deciding where to live. This underscores the essential role of stable digital connectivity in today's family dynamics and economic decisions.

"In an era where both education and work are increasingly dependent on digital platforms, reliable Internet is not just a utility but a cornerstone of daily life," Ivanov adds. “This priority reflects broader societal changes where digital readiness is considered as much as childcare when it comes to education and career opportunities.”

Local Findings Highlight Urban Mobility

The survey also highlighted a particular interest in remote work capabilities in major business hubs. Residents in cities like San Francisco, New York City, and Los Angeles showed a high propensity to relocate if remote work options were available, with over half of the respondents in these areas directly expressing a desire to move.

"These survey findings are a wake-up call for businesses and urban planners alike to invest in robust Internet infrastructure to retain and attract a vibrant, innovative workforce," noted Ivanov. "Strengthening Internet Exchanges across America is no longer just about business continuity; it's about competitive advantage and community resilience."

Summary of key findings:

  • Remote Work Preference: More than half (51%) of Americans value remote and flexible working arrangements, with younger demographics (18-24-year-olds) showing a much stronger preference compared to their older (+55 year old) colleagues (64% vs 31%).
  • Migration Considerations: 44% of Americans would consider relocating if they could maintain their jobs remotely. The high percentages of residents wanting remote work to enable them to move were in cities like San Francisco (55%), New York City (49%), and Los Angeles (61%).
  • Internet vs. Childcare: Reliable Internet access is prioritized over affordable childcare among U.S. parents of children under 18 (25% vs 16%) when deciding where to live, highlighting the essential role of Internet connectivity in modern family dynamics.
  • Internet Disruptions: On average, Americans report experiencing Internet disruptions 53 times per year where they currently live, with 82% of Americans acknowledging some level of Internet disruption. Younger people are facing more frequent interruptions compared to older age groups, with 50% of people aged 18-24 experiencing Internet disruptions once a week or more compared to 18% of people aged 55 or older. 
  • Improvement Suggestions: The top suggestions for improving Internet experience include a greater choice of Internet Service Providers (37%), more fiber/mobile rollout (34%), and increased state (22%) and federal investment (20%) in Internet infrastructure.