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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Left-Wing Ideology and Protectionist Advocacy Hold Up Spectrum

A world full of limited resources requires steady innovation, development, incentives and certainty in order to encourage greater formation and more efficient use of such resources. For entrepreneurs, access to affordable energy, raw materials and supplies, capital, health insurance, etc. is essential to growing a more competitive and sustainable enterprise. Technology and broadband have now become essentials. The infrastructure that keeps entrepreneurs connected to online tools, and the ecosystem that drives new innovations to help firms run more efficiently and productively have become more critical to America’s small business owners.

Our federal government says it’s important to empower individuals and small businesses through broadband and technology (to wit, the FCC’s National Broadband Plan), and has dedicated enormous taxpayer resources into encouraging such adoption. But our federal government has also dedicated what seems like an equivalent amount of resources and time into nitpicking and killing private sector led initiatives that will make universal, affordable, reliable and ubiquitous broadband a reality. For example, the FCC killed off the AT&T/T-Mobile merger and is taking much too long in releasing spectrum for auction.

Now, Verizon Wireless has worked a deal with several cable companies to buy the spectrum they need (while selling off other spectrum) to keep up with the explosive growth in wireless. But all the likely suspects on “the left” (as well as market competitors) are colluding in an effort to scotch this common sense move by Verizon Wireless.  (This Forbes piece punches holes in the left’s baseless and senseless arguments.)

As more individuals and entrepreneurs utilize technology and mobile devices to help them more effectively run their lives and businesses, wireless providers must obtain more spectrum to deliver reliable, affordable and more innovative services. In addition to making more spectrum available through open and unrestricted auctions, our federal government needs to encourage – not stand in the way – of private sector initiatives (like the Verizon Wireless deal with cable companies) to deploy and move spectrum to where it is needed.

As SBE Council discovered in a report we issued last year “Saving Time and Money With Mobile Apps,” entrepreneurs and small firms are rapidly transitioning to mobile devices and apps in order to run their businesses more competitively and efficiently. The report found, for example, that small businesses are saving 1.1 billion hours of employee and owner time annually by using mobile apps. That number has likely gone up significantly as more and more small firms are using mobile apps in their operations. Demand for wireless is exploding, yet the federal government is getting in the way and dithering when it comes to efforts that would enable providers to meet demand by moving spectrum to where it is needed.

An impending spectrum crunch means a jobs crunch, a crunch in innovation and a crunch in entrepreneurship. Given the horrid state of job creation, the poor economic recovery and the uncertainty and instability that remain ahead, you would think regulators at the FCC, DoJ and policymakers within the Obama Administration would get this one. The Verizon Wireless purchase of spectrum from the cable companies should be a simple, seamless transaction. Common sense and economics need to shape the approval of this deal -- not the foolish ideology of the left or the protectionist advocacy of competitors.

Karen Kerrigan, President

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