Better Broadband = Better Economy

Nov 9, 2012

As evidenced by AT&T’s announcement this week that it will invest an additional $14 billion in capital expenditures over the next three years to expand its wireless and wireline broadband networks, broadband continues to be a bright spot in the U.S. economy.

As National Chamber Foundation fellow Bret Swanson writes, innovation will demand additional broadband:

The proliferation of online video, mobile devices, Big Data and new cloud-based architectures continue to drive Internet traffic growth. More mobile devices, for example, mean more of us are spending more of our time generating and consuming data. Or take the aforementioned exacloud. UC-San Diego estimates that 55 percent of total American information consumption, or 1,991 exabytes per year, is (brace yourself) video games. If just 10 percent of these games moved online, they would generate twice the worldwide Internet traffic of 2008. Video is not always the most important content on the Web, but it defines the architecture and capacity of (and often pays for) the networks, data centers, and software that make all the Web’s wonders possible.

Jobs and new business opportunities are being created because of the estimated $60 billion that broadband providers invest every year in network upgrades. For example, in the last few years we’ve seen the App Economy materialize before our eyes with nearly 500,000 jobs being supported by it.

Consumers and the business community are the true beneficiaries of these investments, as higher speeds and greater capacity are enabled, and broadband-enabled applications, services, and devices are developed.

Given the importance of broadband to the U.S. economy, the U.S. Chamber will continue to advocate for federal policies that reduce regulatory uncertainty and spur market-driven investments in broadband networks.

In his speech at the U.S. Chamber last year, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said that “[t]o make sure that the U.S. is getting a full and growing share of broadband-enabled jobs, we’ve got to get our broadband infrastructure right.”  Policymakers should focus their efforts on encouraging private-sector investments in broadband, such as the one announced by AT&T.

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