Report: Domestic wireless market feeds jobs, investment; more spectrum needed


The impact mobile communications has on a country’s economy has been a hot topic of late as carriers around the globe scramble to free spectrum assets from government regulators. Today, Recon Analytics working with domestic wireless trade association CTIA, noted in a report that the wireless industry added nearly $200 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product in 2011, and could lead to $1.5 trillion in “productivity gains over the next ten years.”

“Today, the wireless industry contributes more to America’s economic growth than the auto, agriculture, hotel or motion picture industries,” the study reports, citing nearly four million U.S. jobs related to wireless technology and approximately $90 billion in government revenues coming from wireless consumption.

The report touts an analysis of historical data that shows for every 10 megahertz of licensed spectrum offered up for consumption, the nation sees a $1.7 billion boost in GDP and adds 7,000 jobs. This analysis would extrapolate into the addition of 350,000 jobs and $86.5 billion in GDP growth should the Federal Communications Commission mange to free up 500 megahertz of spectrum over the next 10 years as part of its National Broadband Plan.

The domestic wireless industry was also responsible for adding approximately 200,000 jobs over the past six years, and today has a hand in 3.8 million jobs across the country.

“Any way you measure – by value, jobs, or productivity – wireless is an American growth leader fueled by investment and innovation,” said study author and Recon Analytics founder Roger Entner. “What we have is a perfect storm of breakthrough devices and accelerating investment by network providers as they compete to develop and deploy new generations of wireless infrastructure.”

Perhaps looking to keep the pressure on regulators, the report warns that a lack of additional spectrum assets could imperil future economic benefit.

“For now, new technologies such as [LTE], as well as investment in new towers and other infrastructure are squeezing more capacity from each megahertz, but as a matter of physics, existing spectrum can expand only so far,” Entner explained. “To keep the growth going, the wireless industry not only needs additional spectrum, but also policies that won’t get in the way of critical network investment.”

Did we mention that it’s also an election year?

You can bet that numbers from this report will be repeated ad nausea at next week’s CTIA trade show in New Orleans.

The report comes on the heels of one released by U.K.-based Capital Economics and wireless operator Everything Everywhere noting the impending rollout of LTE services could result in Britain garnering nearly $9 billion in direct private investments by 2015 and create or safeguard up to 125,000 jobs.

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About Author

Dan Meyer

Editor-in-Chief, Telecom Software, Policy, Wireless Carriers
Dan Meyer started at RCR Wireless News in 1999 covering wireless carriers and wireless technologies. As editor-in-chief, Dan oversees editorial direction, reports on news from the wireless industry, including telecom software, policy and wireless carriers, and provides opinion stories on topics of concern to the market such as his popular Friday column “Worst of the Week.”