Report: Wireless infrastructure investment to generate $1.2 trillion in economic growth, create 1.2 million jobs

PCIA report 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.

Sep 24th, 2013

PCIA - The Wireless Infrastructure Association has released a new study showing that projected private investment in wireless infrastructure over the next five years will generate as much as $1.2 trillion in economic growth and create 1.2 million new jobs.

PCIA's president and CEO Jonathan Adelstein announced the report’s findings on September 19 at a regional wireless conference produced by AGL Magazine. The report was written by Information Age Economics (IAE), led by renowned economist, Dr. Alan Pearce, IAE's president and founder. The research team also includes esteemed wireless industry veteran, J. Richard Carlson, and Dr. Michael Pagano, the Robert J. and Mary Ellen Darretta Endowed Chair in Finance at Villanova University.

Titled Wireless Broadband Infrastructure: A Catalyst for GDP and Job Growth 2013-2017, the report 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. These investments will yield several other benefits, states the data, including:

-- Between $863 billion and $1.2 trillion in cumulative economic development over the next five years, a 606 percent increase over the total amount the wireless industry will invest.

-- A 2.2 percent increase in GDP by 2017.

-- A direct impact of $85 billion to $87 billion of economic growth per year over the next five years, for up to a 0.5 percent improvement to GDP per year.

-- The creation of over 28,000 jobs in 2017 and over 122,000 jobs in the next 5 years in the wireless infrastructure industry alone.

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“As an industry, wireless infrastructure ‘punches well above its weight’ due to its outsized positive effects upon the economy and will be a key ingredient to economic and job growth in the United States for the foreseeable future,” the report states. Investment in wireless broadband infrastructure is also projected to have an “impact catalyst” effect, stimulating more powerful and positive indirect network benefits of mobile broadband services. These benefits may include:

-- Up to a 1.69 percent GDP increase by 2017, representing an increase in economic activity from $54 billion in 2013 to $268 billion in 2017.

-- An average of 253,120 new jobs created every year for a net total of 1.2 million jobs over five years.

“These indirect network benefits, offering improved wireless broadband access and higher data speeds, will lead to a plethora of new business formation, while existing businesses and organizations will reap sizable gains in efficiency,” the report states.

The report also notes that wireless broadband, in its outsized contributions to economic growth and employment, “is 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.”

During his remarks, Adelstein applauded the report’s findings as indicative of the transformational power wireless broadband will have on the global economy.

However, he warned that America risks falling behind its global competitors unless it continues to upgrade and expand its wireless broadband infrastructure, a task which requires the concerted effort of policy-makers at the local, state, and federal level and private enterprise.

“The simple truth is that a 2.2 percent increase in GDP and 1.2 million new jobs will not come about by magic,” said Adelstein. “They will only occur if, as a nation, we recognize the fundamental importance of having a robust, ubiquitous, and affordable wireless broadband network that meets the demands of the 21st Century economy. This is as true for local zoning board members as it is for FCC Commissioners.”

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Adelstein added that any national effort to expand and upgrade America’s wireless network should pursue PCIA’s “4G Policies for a 4G World.” Those policies would:

-- Recognize that small cells and distributed antenna systems, the face of next-generation networks, should not be subject to the same environmental and historic preservation regulations as their tower cousins.

-- State that carriers should not have to provide proof of need when deploying a wireless facility.

-- 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 as quickly to all parts of our country with minimal impact.

“If the right 4G policies are implemented – and PCIA will do all it can to see that they are – we will expand wireless broadband everywhere, bringing all the job creation and economic growth laid out so clearly in our report,” concluded Adelstein.

View/Download the report here.

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