Yesterday, at a well-attended event hosted by the Progressive Policy Institute, Roger Entner of Recon Analytics released a report detailing the significant impact the U.S. wireless industry has on our nation's economy.
For those of us who have worked in the wireless industry, it comes as no surprise that our industry is now larger than the publishing, agriculture, hotels and lodging, air transportation, motion picture and recording and motor vehicle manufacturing industry segments. It is also not surprising that telecom is the second largest advertising category in the U.S., with two of the four largest advertisers in the country coming from the wireless space. One only needs to open a newspaper, watch TV for a few minutes, or visit a couple of websites before you see ads for wireless service and devices.
But what I found most impressive about the report was the undeniable economic impact of industry on the U.S. through jobs, GDP and productivity. I knew it, but it’s staggering to see it all in one place. Here are some of the highlights:
- Wireless directly or indirectly supports 3.8 million jobs, or 2.6% of all U.S. employment.
- The wireless industry pays wages that are 65% higher than the national average.
- Wireless contributes $195.5 billion to the U.S. GDP.
- Wireless drove $33 billion in productivity improvements in 2011; over the next 10 years, these efficiency gains will grow to more than $1.4 trillion.
- Wireless enabled an entirely new business, the "app" economy, to grow from zero to $10 billion in four years.
These are the numbers that show what we've already done. Looking ahead, the numbers are just as impressive, as Entner calculated the impact of making an additional 500 MHz of spectrum available for commercial use by 2020, as the FCC proposed in its 2010 National Broadband Plan. Entner projects this would mean:
- An additional 350,000 new U.S. jobs.
- Increase of $166 billion in U.S. GDP.
- Boost of $36.7 billion in government revenues.
- Increase of $13.1 billion in wireless applications and content sales.
I know I'm biased, but Entner's paper clearly shows the SIGNIFICANT economic impact of the U.S. wireless industry now and in the future. Of course the industry’s ability to deliver on this promise will require access to additional spectrum, as I’ve noted in several recent posts here and here.
The incentive auction provisions included in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act represent an important down payment on what needs to be done, but there is a lot more work to do to meet the FCC's National Broadband Plan’s spectrum goals.
As this great video that CNNMoney ran yesterday makes clear, Americans and our economy can't afford to wait.