YOU ARE AT:Network InfrastructureConstruction labor statistics may point to increase in telecom development

Construction labor statistics may point to increase in telecom development

Employment rates are often viewed as bellwethers for industries and the economy as a whole. While the most recent figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reflected incremental – if not little – change in overall employment trends across the United States, some sectors experienced significant growth.

In the field of construction, approximately 48,000 positions became available in the past month, including roughly 10,000 dedicated to heavy and civil engineering projects. These trends may suggest good things for the telecom industry as the construction field is critical to expanding service areas and small cell networks.

Having access to a large construction workforce will be critical in the years to come for U.S.-based telecommunications companies as they look to extend or overhaul their existing network infrastructure. High-quality mobile networks have been hard to come by in certain areas of the country, particularly rural or secluded communities. The demand for robust telecom services is on the rise, thanks in large part to mobile devices replacing desktops as consumers’ primary computer and the ever-increasing digitization of both global and local economies. Without the proper foundation to support high-performance LTE wireless networks, many communities may not be able to effectively compete in this brave new world. As such, telecoms are likely to feel the pressure to expand their infrastructure into previously under-served areas.

Public interest in fiber may be rising

Telecoms may not be able to stand pat with their current networks, either. Google has made waves in recent years with its pilot projects providing high-speed fiber networking to select areas. Such efforts have not gone unnoticed by the pubic, who are increasingly pushing for faster speeds and more reliable connectivity. Many tech experts have stated that fiber is the future of the telecom industry, and forward-thinking organizations may begin following Google’s lead soon. The populace at large may not be galvanized into demanding such services quite yet, but the seemingly never-ending parade of global studies on Internet and mobile network speeds may change that over time. Despite the technological advantages held by the United States, the nation consistently ranks behind other countries in average traffic speeds, falling well below those reported by South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan, among others.

Susan Crawford, author of “Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the Gilded Age,” recently went on NPR’s Fresh Air program to discuss the state of U.S. Internet and mobile networks. Although many industry members have excused sub-par service in the United States because of its massive size and number of sparsely populated regions, Crawford rejects this notion as a viable argument.

“[L]et’s take Sweden for example, very sensible country, actually just as thinly populated as the United States,” Crawford said. “In Stockholm you can get a connection that’s 18-times faster than the one I have in my New York City apartment for a quarter of the price. … It really is astonishing what’s going on in America. We’re falling way behind in the pack of developed nations when it comes to high-speed Internet access, capacity and prices.”

Similarly, the telecommunications marekt may look to improve the quality of their mobile offerings, including enhancing call clarity and availability of services in both remote and densely populated areas of the country. Emerging technologies such as fiber-to-the-antenna are expected to aid these efforts, improving mobile performance.

To catch up with the current global leaders, the nation’s telecoms will need to enhance the quality of their services. This will likely require infrastructure upgrades across the country. With a larger construction workforce to lean on, this goal will be all the more achievable.

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