Wireless Broadband Companies – Leading A League of American Investment SuperHeroes
By: Jason Llorenz, Esq., HTTP Executive Director
In defiance of the struggling economy, AT&T and Verizon recently topped the list of “investment heroes”-companies investing in infrastructure, buildings and “capital intensive” expenditures across the United States. These investments create jobs and generate an economic multiplier effect across the economy, as equipment and materials are purchased to meet the needs of wireless networks requiring ongoing maintenance, operation and upgrades. Yet, the real reason wireless broadband companies are champion investors is due to a consumer and policy environment that has made such investments both necessary and possible.
We are now, however, at an important policy crossroads for ensuring these investments for the future. Consumers want more wireless. Across every demographic, Americans are using more wireless devices and demanding immediate wireless access to everything from video to work files to music. This includes Latinos and other minorities who rely on wireless devices for exclusive web access in higher proportion than the rest of Americans. During the past few years, consumer demand has driven investment in new network facilities to help advance the deployment of high-speed broadband service.
These investments have helped create new jobs. A NDN study found that over 300,000 jobs were created in the move from 2G to 3G networks. Building out new towers requires manpower-blue collar construction jobs, managers, engineers, planners and a pipeline of materials. Today the move to 4G LTE is driving today’s capital expenditures, as the companies seek to satisfy consumer demand and provide high speed broadband service throughout the nation. This new wireless broadband infrastructure has made the$16 billion app economy possible and enhanced economic growth throughout the wireless ecosystem.
We need to address the spectrum shortage to ensure that the wireless broadband industry continues to thrive. As this blog has said before, more spectrum must be allocated for consumer use as quickly as possible, not only because of potential consumer consequences but because of the potential for investment. Companies invest to expand their wireless networks when additional spectrum is available to be deployed in the market. Some new spectrum will be made available through spectrum auctions, however, to meet future demand we must look toward advancing secondary market transactions among private entities and the potential for obtaining government-held spectrum .
Newly appointed Commissioners Pai and Rosenworcel have both discussed the need to expedite FCC reviews, with Pai suggesting the creation of an FCC office designated with advocacy for expediency on behalf of entrepreneurs. This is a worthwhile idea, because wasted time at the FCC leaves capital fallow, creates no new jobs, encourages no investment, and benefits no one.
Wireless broadband is a driver of a large portion of the economy — one that creates American jobs. We must ensure that the federal government puts in place the right policies to encourage investment, put Americans back to work and to revitalize our economy.
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Jason A. Llorenz, Esq. is Executive Director, the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP). Follow on twitter: @hispanicttp. www.httponline.org.