CTIA trumpets report touting $400B in economic benefits from licensed spectrum

CTIA is promoting a new study that says licensed wireless spectrum generates more than $400 billion in annual economic activity. The report, that the economic and financial consultancy the Brattle Group prepared for CTIA, comes amid a new round of debates over licensed vs. unlicensed spectrum usage.

The $400 billion figure includes direct and indirect economic impact generated by the mobile carriers, but excludes potentially billions of dollars more in economic benefits produced by mobile health, mobile education, the app economy, and other sectors that use licensed spectrum as a platform for their own business models, according to the report.

The figure is based on 2013 data showing $172 billion in direct spending on U.S. wireless services and an additional $228 billion in indirect and induced impacts.

CTIA, which has long promoted the benefits of licensed spectrum, is lobbying heavily for the most spectrum possible to be auctioned off to wireless carriers in next year's incentive auction of 600 MHz broadcast TV spectrum. On the other side, proponents of Wi-Fi and other technologies for unlicensed spectrum are urging the FCC to allocate more spectrum for unlicensed uses. Additionally, Wi-Fi providers are pushing back against LTE-Unlicensed technology, warning that it could interfere with unlicensed Wi-Fi operations. There are also ongoing debates about the role of unlicensed operations in the 3.5 GHz and 5 GHz bands. Release