Last week I participate in the Wireless University
Communications Policy Summit held in San Diego.
University was attended by more than sixty legislators
representing thirty-six states.
The seminar was hosted by, and partially paid for by,
the non-profit National Conference of State
The remainder of the cost of attending the three-day
University was paid by the legislators who participated
in the conference.
For me, the most important take-away issues are the
immense size and the incredible growth of the wireless
industry in the United States.
The number of jobs that the industry is creating
makes it a major job growth industry.
Also of concern is the potential number of jobs that
are being placed in jeopardy by that wireless
The cumulative wireless capital spending in the
United States totals nearly $325 billion since 1995.
Even during the current recession, the three largest
telecommunications companies invested more than $40
Billion in total private capital spending last year.
No other major industry even approaches their rate of
domestic private capital investment.
In comparison, Wal-Mart, Exxon Mobile and Chevron
combined invested about $23 billion in domestic capital
expenditures during 2010.
The growth of the wireless industry is virtually
Wireless data traffic more than doubled between 2009
Research estimates that wireless traffic will reach
thirty-five times the 2009 volume by 2014.
By 2015 the total increase in wireless traffic is
estimated to be fifty six times the 2009 volume, when
current and new applications are combined.
Even that astounding rate of growth may be
underestimated, because no one really knows the number,
and kinds of new applications that may be developed
during those four short years.
The major limiting factor appears to be the capacity
of the wireless highway that is the electromagnetic
Currently, only about nine percent of the spectrum is
used by wireless telecommunications.
Another thirty percent is licensed to broadcast radio
The remaining sixty one percent is retained for
Rapidly developing technology is continuing to
improve the efficient use of the electromagnetic
That technology focuses on more precise division and
separation of signals.
For instance, digitalization of the signal allows
more entities to successfully use narrow frequency bands
A second limiting factor is how well our federal and
state governments regulate the availability and the
usage of the electromagnetic spectrum.
In my opinion, it is unfortunately that governments
are viewing the spectrum as a major potential source of
The federal government is already auctioning off
available spectrum for literally billions of dollars to
the highest bidder.
Governments at all levels are collecting taxes and
usage fees for all forms of wireless communications.
Of course, all those taxes and fees, levied on the
wireless carriers, will be passed through for their
wireless customers to pay in the same manner that all
taxes on businesses must be passed on to their
Those taxes and fees have reached an average of
sixteen percent of the consumersí monthly bill.
This is at the same time that actual wireless usage
fees are declining due to competitive marketing.
The rapid development of e-commerce is changing how
products are marketed and purchased.
Mobile access to products is immediate, convenient,
and cost effective.
For instance, consider how wireless technology has
changed how we purchase books, music and newspapers.
Ninety three percent of all U.S. businesses are
currently using some form of social networking to market
The amount of retail shopping, as well as the amount
of product purchased on line, is increasing at near
Financial institutions are rapidly going paperless.
ATMís are ubiquitous.
Debit cards are electronically replacing checks and
Many large retailers now return our checks at the
retail counter after they have used them like a debit
card to access our bank accounts.
In fact, many "smart phones" now can serve as an
electronic wallet, with check book, credit card and
The possible applications for digital education are
Information is now at the fingertips of virtually
anyone with a hand held wireless device.
The appropriate application of digital wireless
technology is capable of reversing the decline in our
In fact, many skilled teachers are already using
wireless technology to bring myriad educational
opportunities to their classrooms.
On the positive side, the wireless industry currently
employs about two million four hundred thousand
Americans either directly or indirectly.
They expect to add another two hundred thousand
employees by 2015.
On the potentially negative side, the application of
wireless technology is eliminating the need for many
employees such as in retail stores and financial
Much as the application of electronic technology has
increased manufacturing productivity, the application of
e-commerce and e-financial technology may be expected to
improve productivity in those sectors as well.
As you may know, Congressman Greg Walden is the
chairman of the Congressional House Subcommittee on
Communications and Technology.
The Congressman recently hired Mr. Ray Baume to be
his chief technical advisor for that influential
Mr. Baume was serving as the chairman of the Oregon
Public Utilities Commission when he was hired for that
We look forward to working with the Congressman and
Mr. Baume, especially regarding issues that affect rural