WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — So many people are moving to Florida, even wireless network operators are having to spend more to keep up with the demand.
Verizon said Wednesday in a news release that Florida's "exponential and unexpected population increase" has prompted the company to allocate an additional $149 million to its capital spending "to meet skyrocketing demands on the network."
Data provided by Verizon revealed that more than a quarter of a million of its wireless customers have moved to Florida between January 2020 and April of this year.
Verizon's busy-hour data traffic has spiked by more than 100% since January 2020 in major metropolitan areas of the state, including Orlando (408%), Miami (364%), West Palm Beach (165%) and Tampa (135%).
"We are used to seeing seasonal increases in population in Florida and have always accommodated those temporary fluctuations with temporary network assets to add capacity at various times of the year," Kyle Malady, president of Verizon's global networks and technology division, said in the news release. "With the evolution of the distributed workforce resulting from the pandemic, we're seeing more people permanently change locations to Florida and other places. Experiencing the impact of this influx, we revised our forecasting models and are pouring additional capital into the state to grow our coverage and capacity to meet the increased demands."
Verizon said it already invested more than $1 billion in the Miami and Tampa areas in 2020 and 2021 to coincide with back-to-back Super Bowls in the state.
"If businesses aren't addressing the concerns of South Florida, are they in business?" Helena Yeaman said.
Yeaman is a professor of economics and real estate at Broward College. She's also a real estate broker.
She said since Florida remained mostly open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it's no secret the state has become a destination.
"Companies are going to come here because this is where the customers are," she said. "I mean, we see a lot of Amazon fulfillment because people are buying here. So, it makes sense to offer services here."
Yeaman said she expects more companies to follow suit in Florida.
"I think we're going to see the state fill up with people, and we have to be ready," she said. "Businesses are going to be ready because, you know what, in a market economy, businesses follow the people. That's the way it is."
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