Every day, Georgia consumers and businesses propel the state forward, increasingly with a cell phone in their hands.
Wireless is now an indispensible service for commerce. More small business owners are using wirelessly connected tablets and smartphones to handle credit card purchases. Huge volumes of goods are shipped and handled from the Port of Savannah and over roads with the aid of wirelessly connected handhelds and specially designed tracking tags. Patients are able to monitor their health and interact with doctors all using wireless devices and services.
Wireless is a jobs driver in our state. While Georgia’s job picture has been getting better, unemployment remains too high for any of us. Jobs in the wireless industry have been one of the few bright spots for the state and the nation.
According to the CTIA, The Wireless Association, total private sector jobs fell by 5.3 million between April 2007 and June 2011, but the U.S. wireless industry added almost 1.6 million new jobs in the same time period. Many of those jobs are in Georgia.
Along with the growth in the wireless industry came the growth in smartphone and tablet applications: the “app economy.” This burgeoning area of commerce is big in Georgia. Nationally, the app economy accounts for over 510,000 jobs; 24,000 of those positions are right here in Georgia. It has an economic impact of more than $1 billion annually in our state. We wouldn’t have the app economy were it not for robust wireless service.
Wireless carriers contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to Georgia’s economy every year through direct investment, jobs and taxes:
- From 2009 to 2011, AT&T invested more than $3.2 billion in its Georgia wired and wireless networks.
- As of 2011, Verizon Wireless had invested over $1.9 billion in its Georgia network.
Because of this investment, consumers and businesses in Georgia now have access to advanced wireless services like 3G, 4G and LTE, which opens up access to the mobile Internet and the global economy. Their investment also opens up opportunities for schools and families across the state to customize the learning experience: Digital education allows personalized learning beyond the boundaries of classroom walls, school campuses and school districts.
According to the CTIA, for dollar invested in wireless broadband generates an additional $7 to $10 for U.S. gross domestic product. Based on that analysis, wireless investment from just AT&T and Verizon has a multiplier effect and produces hundreds of millions of dollars more in economic activity in Georgia.
Jobs. Investment. Innovation. Education. Wireless service is essential for Georgia. The state must continue to put out the welcome mat to encourage an economic environment that attracts more wireless investment, new infrastructure and the private-sector jobs that result from the presence of the wireless service industry. Along the way, the state benefits from the latest technological advances, consumers benefit from the choices that competition encourages, and businesses benefit from more robust service, faster connection speeds and new devices and services.
Kelly McCutchen is president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, an independent, state-focused think tank that proposes practical, market-oriented approaches to public policy to improve the lives of Georgians. Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation or as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before the U.S. Congress or the Georgia Legislature.
©Georgia Public Policy Foundation (February 15, 2013). Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and his affiliations are cited.