The Telecommunications Industry Association has released a five-point plan for sustained telecom recovery.
The plan calls for:
* A national broadband policy,
* The implementation of a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) framework for broadband deregulation,
* Legislative tax incentives for broadband deployment,
* Spectrum allocation for new services, and,
* R&D funding for the communications sector.
"The telecom industry remains in an unstable condition," says TIA President Matthew Flanigan. "It has not fully rebounded from the 600,000 manufacturing jobs lost, $1 trillion in corporate debt and dramatic capital expenditure cuts that have occurred over the past three years.
"With the release of our five-point strategy, TIA is focusing its attention on how to get this sector out of the rut," Flanigan continues. "The bottom line is that this plan is about job creation and investment in our sector."
As early as October 2001, the association sent a letter to President George Bush urging the administration to adopt a national broadband policy and proposing nine specific principals as its basis. The United States is still without such a policy.
The TIA continues to believe that with a national broadband plan, the potential for job growth is great, and investments in telecom networks would have a ripple effect on the economy. The association argues, for instance, that for every job created in the telecom sector due to investment in new networks, four jobs are created in related sectors.
"We are asking the president to announce the initiation of a national broadband strategy in his State of the Union address in January," states Flanigan. "Without a national policy, U.S. citizens are missing out on the economic and social benefits of broadband deployment."
Regarding the implementation of an FCC framework for broadband deregulation, Flanigan argues that it is critical that the FCC reduce regulatory obstacles to building last-mile connections. The broadband portion of the FCC's Triennial Review Report and Order is a historic step. The TIA believes that this decision to not require incumbent local exchange carriers to provide unbundled access to new, last-mile broadband facilities will be a critical linchpin in the turnaround of the telecommunications industry and a key to its long-term growth. The TIA hopes the court appeals of the R&O will move quickly, and the association is committed, with the High Tech Broadband Coalition, to help defend the broadband section.
For the third point in the plan, the TIA has, for several years now, been endorsing and working for passage of tax incentive legislation as a means by which to stimulate the buildout of broadband networks on a nationwide basis. Recently, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) included a one-year version of the broadband expensing measure as a provision in his JOBS Act. The TIA supports the bill and is working to ensure it passes out of the Senate Chamber with the broadband provision intact.
The TIA believes spectrum allocation also is critical to telecom's recovery. The association sees passage of the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act (H.R. 1320) as an urgent priority. The bill addresses the funding of relocation costs incurred as a result of the reallocation of spectrum from federal to non-federal use. The association argues that targeting funds for federal entities to finance their relocation to other spectrum bands is of paramount importance in ensuring the timely provision of new and advanced commercial wireless services.
In addition, the association argues that the FCC should move quickly to finalize the service rules for the 1700 MHz spectrum, which has been allocated to support the introduction of advanced wireless services.
Finally, the TIA is calling for additional research funding for the communications sector. According to a National Association of Manufacturers study, the United States ranks only fifth in the world in terms of R&D as a percentage of gross domestic product.
The TIA is based in Arlington, Va. For more information visit www.tiaonline.org.