Private investment in U.S. wireless broadband infrastructure promises to catalyze economic growth and employment over the next five years, according to a new report released by trade association PCIA. However, the association warned that fulfillment of that promise requires foresight from the FCC and local zoning authorities.
The report, written by Information Age Economics, evaluates the economic and job-creation impacts generated by projected wireless infrastructure investments between $34 billion to $36 billion per year over the next five years, said PCIA. Those investments will generate as much as $1.2 trillion in cumulative economic growth, a 606 percent increase over the total amount the wireless industry will invest, according to the study.
On the employment front, wireless investments will yield more than 28,000 new jobs in 2017 and more than 122,000 jobs during the next five years in the wireless infrastructure industry alone, the report said.
Private investment in wireless broadband infrastructure, in particular, will also have an "impact catalyst" effect, stimulating numerous indirect network benefits that stem from the availability of improved wireless broadband access and higher data speeds.
Those benefits include up to a 1.69 percent gross domestic product (GDP) increase by 2017, representing growth in economic activity to $268 billion in 2017 from $54 billion in 2013. Another indirect benefit will be the creation of, on average, 253,120 new jobs annually for a net total of 1.2 million jobs over five years.
The indirect benefits from wireless broadband network investments will lead to the formation of new businesses and gains in efficiency at existing businesses and organizations, the report said.
Wireless broadband is described in the report as being "akin to other disruptive enabling technologies, such as the deployment of the electric infrastructure, the national railroad and interstate highway systems, the invention of the combustion engine, the global impact of the personal computer, as well as the Internet and the World Wide Web."
Jonathan Adelstein, PCIA president and CEO, noted the gains predicted in the report are dependent upon future FCC policy as well as appropriate zoning rules at the local level. Sprint (NYSE:S), as well as other carriers, have seen their LTE rollouts hampered by cell site zoning issues.
Adelstein called for authorities to follow PCIA's "4G Policies for a 4G World," which call for policymakers to: recognize that small cells and distributed antenna systems should not be subject to the same environmental and historic preservation regulations as macro cells; state that carriers should not have to provide proof of need when deploying a wireless facility; and facilitate the efficient use of existing support structures--including towers, buildings, water tanks, and utility poles--to ensure that coverage and capacity can be delivered quickly to all areas with minimal impact.
- see this PCIA release
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