All broadband eyes are focused on Barcelona this week, home to the annual GSMA Mobile World Congress. One of the kickoff speakers was FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who started his comments with a list of facts:
>> In the United States, mobile ecommerce sales surged to $6.7 billion in 2011, a 91-percent increase from 2010. They are projected to hit $31 billion by 2015, a jump of more than 400 percent.
>> During the last week of 2011, more than 500 million apps were downloaded in the United States, and more than 1 billion apps were downloaded worldwide.
>> About 490 million smartphones were sold worldwide in 2011, exceeding the number of PCs sold during the same period.
>> A new report this month projected that global sales of tablets will surpass PC sales by 2015 in just three years. And experts predict that advances in sensors and machine-to-machine technologies will give us 50 billion connected things by 2020.
>> The number of mobile broadband subscribers worldwide is projected to grow from 1.2 billion to 5 billion by 2016.
>> The apps economy barely existed in early 2009. Today, it supports nearly 500,000 jobs.
He continued, “So what can government do to help seize the opportunities of mobile, consistent with this philosophy? Government can help spur investment by removing barriers to private sector mobile buildout. Consider cloud computing. This rapidly growing sector offers attractive investment opportunities. But restrictions on free flows of data could slow the growth of the cloud and deter investment. Governments should reject unnecessary regulations on cloud computing, including rules that limit the physical location of data and code.
“Another way government can encourage investment is by ensuring that mobile operators have room for business model experimentation. At the FCC, we’ve recognized that for mobile carriers, like other businesses, matching price to cost can yield efficiency and other benefits; we recognize that investment won’t occur without revenue and without returns on investment — and that is why we haven’t prohibited usage-based pricing.”
Another hot topic continues to be Internet regulation, and the chairman touched on this as well:
“Some have proposed creating a new international regulatory body to govern the Internet, replacing the longstanding, multi-stakeholder governance model that has enabled the Internet to flourish as an open platform for communication and innovation. If adopted, these proposals would be devastating to the future of the Internet, including the mobile Internet, and the U.S. government has consistently and strongly opposed such proposals.
“As President Obama said last May in his International Strategy for Cyberspace, the decentralized, cooperative, layered architecture of the Internet ‘fuels the freedom of innovation that enables economic growth. It fuels the freedom of expression and association that enables social and political growth and the functioning of democratic societies worldwide. The United States stands firm in our conviction that when the international community meets to discuss the range of Internet governance issues, these conversations must take place in a multi-stakeholder manner.’”