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Apps economy: What Congress needs to do to develop it

Posted September 12th, 2012 in Broadband, Congress, economy, FCC, Government Regulation, NTIA, spectrum and tagged , , , , , , by Alton Drew

The apps economy is about infrastructure and if Congress wants to see this vibrant industry develop, an industry that, according to testimony before Congress by TechNet CEO Rey Ramsey, has created 466,000 jobs as of the end of 2011, then the focus should be on infrastructure. Here is how Mr. Ramsey put it:

“To sustain and grow this economic activity, Congress should focus on the broader issues of infrastructure and access. We need a national infrastructure that promotes access to spectrum, broadband adoption, working capital, and human capital. And we need to ensure that everyone – from academia to minority communities to vets – have easy access to apps.”

What this means then that if apps development is to continue being an integral part of American commercial activity, we need the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to implement policy that frees up more of the spectrum that the federal government is not using.

With only 16% of all spectrum being used for commercial purposes, and the demand for wireless broadband increasing with every new app deployed, the federal government needs to further streamline its policy on spectrum auctions and license transfers.

It’s going to take ten years to prepare government-held spectrum for commercial use once commercial use is approved. This means making decisions now on how much spectrum is going to be released by particular agencies.

Spectrum that is laying fallow in the hands of some carriers needs to be moved into the hands of carriers ready to put spectrum to use now. This is not the time for the FCC to practice wishful thinking when it comes to which carriers the agency believes should be able to get spectrum and which carriers should not. If app developers see dwindling opportunities to push their apps as a result of a spectrum crunch here in the U.S., they will take development abroad. Can the U.S. afford the loss of employment opportunities if this were to happen?

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The residual effects of AT&T/T-Mobile

Former Georgia congressman Buddy Darden and former Georgia state senator Chuck Clay co-authored an article for The Cherokee Tribune that makes an important point about the stimulative effect of the acquisition: job growth.

While opponents have been focusing on possible layoffs, they have completely ignored the ripple effects that the acquisition will have in the human resources market. Opponents forget that job growth doesn’t begin and end with the two immediate parties to an acquisition.

Given the increasing demand for mobile broadband access services, there will be the residual effect of entrepreneurship, an important basis for job creation.

App developers and other contractors, as well as supply chain startups will benefit from the deployment of mobile facilities, given them a larger platform upon which to introduce new products and services.

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Steve Forbes’ take on antitrust and information infrastructure is an accurate one.

Came across an article written by Steve Forbes questioning the impact of today’s antitrust framework on proposed mergers such as AT&T and T-Mobile. Yes, I know that we should expect nothing but cheerleading for capitalism and free markets from the Forbes Magazine editor-in-chief, but, as usual, he’s right for the most part.

While I disagree with his de-emphasis of the role that traditional infrastructure projects play in our economic turnaround, I agree that government policy as well should be promoting the role our information technology infrastructure in the recovery.

While I give the Obama administration overall credit for making broadband deployment to the unserved and underserved insular, urban, and rural parts of the nation, I cannot get my head around its application of mid-twentieth century antitrust law with the constantly evolving 21st century broadband technology.

How fast are we evolving? In 1972, I remember reading an article in grade school about AT&T’s vision to build phones with TV screens. Back then the closest thing to that was Mr. Spock’s tricorder.

Fast forward 35 years to 2007 and Apple’s iPhone makes that a possibility.

In four short years since the iPhone, Facebook and Ooyala introduce social TV, which allows Facebook users to share video with friends while commenting on the content. Allegedly, production companies are considering using the platform to provide content for sale or rent.

How would antitrust policy be used in the event that Google decided to buy a wireless company like Sprint, or better yet, go after an asset like AT&T in order to get its aggregated content and search capabilities further entrenched in the home?

Hopefully policy makers would move out of the way having learned that the next big innovation is right behind.

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AT&T/T-Mobile’s role in infrastructure development and jobs

After I reading an excellent post by James Glassman, I listened to The News Hour’s Paul Solman presentation on unemployment. One school of thought is that unemployment is cyclical; the other is that it’s structural based on technology and globalization.

Either way, the expansion of 4G networks through AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile would have addressed both. Combined with Mr. Obama’s STEM education initiative, AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile could help supply current and future tech trained labor with work.

So is broadband still a part of infrastructure?

Posted October 12th, 2010 in Broadband, economy, Internet and tagged , , , , , by Alton Drew

I noticed during President Obama’s press statement yesterday about infrastructure investment that he did not include broadband deployment. The president asked Congress to support a six-year plan to invest in the nation’s transportation system. The investment would result in building 150,000 miles of highway, 4,000 miles of railway, and 150 miles of airport runway.

Wouldn’t this have been a good time to push the national broadband plan as well? Al Gore’s super information highway has long been touted as an economic growth engine. The FCC, however, has not been able to sell Congress on approval of the plan. With the potential loss of the U.S. House of Representatives to the Republican Party in less than four weeks, the likelihood of a Genachowski-led FCC broadband plan getting Congressional approval grows smaller each passing day.

Maybe the president realizes that the market is doing just fine delivering broadband to consumers. Consumers are exercising market choice by accessing the Internet via traditional digital subscriber line and cable modem services as well as by wireless services.

The message: maybe the super information highway does not need any additional paving