Brattle principal Coleman Bazelon and senior associate Giulia McHenry recently prepared a report for CTIA—The Wireless Association that estimates spectrum licensed to U.S. wireless carriers generates more than $400 billion annually. This estimate includes direct and indirect sources of economic impact generated by wireless carriers, but excludes billions in additional economic benefits from other sectors including mobile health, mobile education, and the app economy.
The report, “Mobile Broadband Spectrum: A Vital Resource for the American Economy,” emphasizes the importance of licensed spectrum to the mobile industry and to the U.S. economy as a whole. It is described by Dr. Bazelon as a “finite resource that we must deploy efficiently to maximize benefits for all Americans. It fuels other sectors, and its value goes well beyond those measured here.” It enables network operators to boost wireless speeds and capacity, allows device manufacturers to develop new products and apps, and encourages content developers to create new offerings.
Another benefit of licensed spectrum is job creation. According to the Brattle report, “for every one person employed in the wireless industry, an additional 6.5 people get jobs,” which is a statistic that is higher than any other segment of the telecommunications sector. In total, the report found that the wireless industry supported over 1.3 million jobs in 2013.
As a result of the various social and economic benefits associated with licensed spectrum, and due to the highly competitive nature of the mobile sector, Americans value their mobile service between $5 to $10 trillion more than they actually pay to use it.
The full report can be downloaded below.