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?