Ensuring a Wireless Future

March 8, 2012 at 12:45 am | Posted in fmori, politics | Leave a comment

Last week, the White House issued a report on wireless broadband that should be required reading for anyone concerned about long-term prosperity. It begins noting that “the evidence is clear that the wireless industry is an important source of investment and employment.”

But then it lays down the warning: Without new airwaves to handle our surging wireless needs, this growth is threatened.

Look at the impact: The White House itself estimated two years ago that every dollar invested in wireless deployment can result in as much as $7 to $10 higher GDP.

That’s the crucial backdrop for legislation that President Obama recently signed calling for the first auction of wireless spectrum since 2008. It’s also why these auctions must take place quickly with minimal government regulation.

We don’t want a repeat of the last time the Federal Communications Commission hosted a wireless auction. In 2008, the FCC insisted on imposing onerous conditions on a major portion of the spectrum.

The result was as easy to see as it was depressing. Corporate bidders stayed away and taxpayers lost billions of dollars in lost revenue to the government.

The growth of Americans’ wireless usage in recent years has been stunning. Four years ago, our most popular mobile phone was the Motorola Razr. Today, smartphones dominate and that has spurred huge growth for the US software industry.

Mobile app growth probably won’t revitalize shuttered textile mills or furniture factories, but the U.S. does have a global advantage in areas such as software development. The impact on the software industry is obvious. Beyond that, our wireless growth also sustains jobs in finance, marketing, advertising and many other areas associated with the wireless industry.

However, this opportunity for growth is hampered by an acute spectrum shortage. Our current airwaves are reaching a saturation point. Tens of millions of new smartphone and tablet users stream music, download videos, play games and do all sorts of other great things over the mobile web. Pretty soon, all this data will overwhelm the available wireless spectrum. That’s why Congress and the Administration must move quickly.

They need to agree on a clean set of auctions rules that let all qualified bidders make offers. Further, they need to resist the temptation to place regulations on any auction, as these would only create delay, uncertainty and less revenue for the U.S. Treasury.
We need all the stimulus we can get. Having the federal government move faster on wireless auctions is a good place to start.

Floyd Mori
National Executive Director

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