Earlier this week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski addressed a group at Washington, D.C.-based LivingSocial to talk about jobs and the broadband economy. His remarks focused on three main issues at the center of his agency’s national broadband strategy for the 21st century:
>> Why broadband is so vital to near-term economic recovery and long-term prosperity;
>> How positive developments in the broadband economy are strong reasons for optimism about America’s economic future, and
>> What we must do to address threats to our broadband economy and harness the power of high-speed Internet to spur economic growth and job creation
The chairman waxed poetic for a considerable length of time. In light of that, CT Reports has excerpted some of the more salient points of his talk:
"It’s the story of broadband – high-speed Internet, wired and wireless – and how it’s transforming our economy and the way we live: creating jobs in large numbers, boosting opportunity all over the country, and driving our global competitiveness.
"Our broadband infrastructure consists of the fiber, cables, cell towers, and airwaves that enable digital Internet traffic to travel anywhere in the world in a fraction of a second. $8 trillion are exchanged over these wired and wireless networks each year. If you shut down the Internet, you’d shut down the economy.
"Over the past 15 years, even taking into account the recent difficult economic times, the Internet has enabled as much economic growth as the Industrial Revolution generated in its first 50 years. In the U.S., the Internet accounted for 8 percent of America’s GDP growth from 1995 to 2009. Since 2004, it’s accounted for 15 percent of U.S. GDP growth, so the Internet is only growing in importance.
"I recognize that the positive link between innovation, productivity and job creation can sometimes seem counterintuitive. The disruptive impact of high-speed Internet is as undeniable as the lost jobs at video stores, newspapers or the yellow pages. But the key fact is that the Internet is creating more jobs than it’s eliminating. McKinsey recently concluded that broadband Internet creates 2.6 new jobs for every one lost. These are real jobs being created right now.
"But as important, many jobs being created by the broadband economy are not engineering jobs, and are not just in Silicon Valley and other tech centers. Broadband is enabling job creation at different skill levels, and all over the country. Just last month in Jeffersonville, Indiana, I joined a coalition of companies called Jobs4America to announce the creation of 100,000 new broadband-enabled call center jobs in the U.S. over the next two years, all over the country, many on-shored from overseas. Many of these at-home jobs create meaningful employment opportunities for people with disabilities, veterans, seniors, and stay-at-home parents.
"The world is connected. Capital can flow anywhere, and jobs will follow. Let’s not kid ourselves. To make sure that the U.S. is getting a full and growing share of broadband-enabled jobs, we’ve got to get our broadband infrastructure right. If we don’t, we’ll still have job losses here, but the new jobs will increasingly be created in other parts of the world. Fortunately, we are well positioned to lead in the global broadband economy. The U.S. captures 30 percent of all Internet revenue worldwide and more than 40 percent of net income. We lead in broadband innovation overall, and we’ve regained the lead in mobile, a fast-growing and critically important sector.
"The U.S. is also the first to free up unlicensed "white spaces" spectrum. The FCC’s order last year represented the largest release in twenty-five years of unlicensed spectrum, and the first release of high-powered unlicensed spectrum, a powerful new platform for innovation. Earlier this month, we took another step forward, announcing the testing of the first white spaces database. U.S. companies will have a head start in developing new devices, applications and services for this spectrum – "Super Wi-Fi," machine-to-machine, and more – and we’ll be in a position to export to the world and help grow our economy here.
"Broadband providers invested tens of billions of dollars in wired and wireless networks in the first half of 2011, a double-digit increase from 2010. Capital investment at large tech companies is also robust, in the tens of billions of dollars, and experiencing very healthy increases. Venture capital investment in Internet start-ups has returned to its highest levels since 2001 – attracting more than $2 billion in the most recent quarter. A new Deloitte study estimates that investment in 4G mobile broadband networks, which is already underway, will add up to $151 billion in GDP growth over the next four years, creating 771,000 new jobs. So add construction jobs to the broadband-powered job-creation I catalogued earlier.
"First, we need to close the spectrum gap. The second broadband gap we need to close is the deployment gap. Third, we need to close the broadband adoption gap."
— Debra Baker