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Thursday, June 07, 2012

Government Needs to Fast Track Efforts to Increase, Improve Wireless Infrastructure

The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) is urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and all government entities that have a hand in our nation’s wireless infrastructure to accelerate and improve efforts that will get spectrum to the providers that need this resource. The advocacy and research organization says that in addition to more quickly conducting spectrum auctions, the federal government must modernize and streamline the way it reviews mergers, acquisitions and other initiatives in the telecommunications industry to help providers allocate and direct spectrum to where it is most needed, and where it can be used most efficiently.

"Few have benefitted more from the mobile technology revolution than entrepreneurs and their employees, with tremendous gains in efficiency and the ability to better serve customers. But as demand for spectrum rises, and with a spectrum crunch on the horizon, providers desperately need increased availability, and government needs to let the market allocate such spectrum to its best uses,” said SBE Council chief economist Raymond Keating.

According to SBE Council, U.S. small business owners have become increasingly dependent on broadband tools and mobile devices to compete more effectively, so keeping these resources reliable and affordable while encouraging innovation in this space is critical to their survival and growth.  Several studies the group has published over the past year point to an explosion in the small business community’s adoption of broadband and mobile apps, for example, which is good news when it comes to helping these firms cut costs, operate more competitively and grow revenues.  SBE Council President & CEO Karen Kerrigan said the federal government through its training programs is aggressively promoting the use of such technologies, but it also needs to better support providers in their efforts to deliver first-class, robust service to small business consumers.

“Unfortunately, the federal government is undermining private sector initiatives to make universal broadband a reality. At the same time, innovation is harmed, which is an area where the U.S. leads the world.  The Obama Administration must show leadership in streamlining the bureaucracy, and educating archaic thinkers at the FCC who appear out-of-touch with markets, the tempo of competition and the needs of the marketplace,” said Kerrigan.

The FCC has been moving at a snail’s pace when it comes to making spectrum available through auction, and it teamed up with the Department of Justice to kill the AT&T/T-Mobile deal last year.  Currently, they are overly-scrutinizing a Verizon Wireless agreement with the cable companies to buy more spectrum (while selling off other spectrum), which should be a simple and seamless approval, according to SBE Council.

“Quite simply, these unnecessary regulatory delays mean delays in much-needed investment that benefit consumers, again, including small businesses. Verizon's agreement to buy AWS spectrum from Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Comcast and Cox Communications should be an easy approval for the FCC,” observed Keating.

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