Today’s economy runs on an internet connection. And I don’t just say that as someone who works in the connectivity business. The reality is workers turn to online trainings to bolster their skillsets. Startup businesses use digital platforms to reach a wider range of customers. And high-speed internet makes industries like healthcare, manufacturing and agriculture more productive and accessible.
Did you know? Estimates show that universal access to broadband would raise earnings-weighted labor productivity by an estimated $160 billion per year.1
The internet is the backbone of our economy, and we need plans in place to stay ahead of demand for fiber and 5G networks. To do that, we’re focusing on three key resource pipelines:
- A skilled workforce pipeline;
- A resilient supply chain pipeline; and
- A dedicated spectrum pipeline.
These pipelines work in concert, building the internet ecosystem that brings numerous economic and social benefits. Here’s how we’re working today to fuel them going forward.
The internet connection we depend on doesn’t exist without highly-skilled workers. As more federal broadband funding is made available and networks get more sophisticated, we and others in the industry will need thousands more engineers and technicians trained on the latest technology to deploy networks and keep them upgraded.2
To meet this demand, we are working the federal entities, state government, local community colleges, the Communications Workers of America, industry partners, and more to meet people where they are, invest in their skills and pair them with employers. Our investments in the people behind our networks are investments in the innovation of the future. Today’s efforts to develop our workforce will keep our critical infrastructure ready for the long haul.
A skilled broadband workforce can only go as far as the supply chain of materials with which networks are built. As more networks will need to be built and upgraded, we must pair our skilled workforce with an efficient supply chain.
We have decades of experience making sure that we have a diverse and resilient supply chain to help keep our networks up and running no matter what’s happening in the world. We diligently prepare for and maintain plans to navigate unexpected shortages that can cause global disruptions.
We are in constant coordination with our suppliers to meet demand for U.S.-manufactured materials, including through expanding our long-term partnership with Corning – resulting in their $150 million investment to open fiber-optic cable manufacturing facilities in Arizona and North Carolina.
By working together, we put ourselves in the best position to build the supply chain pipeline needed for a robust and evolving broadband infrastructure – no matter what is thrown at us.
Just like fiber-optic cable carries bytes and bits over our wired networks, spectrum is the conduit our mobile networks use to transmit data from point A to point B. It’s the lifeblood of any wireless connection – and licensed wireless spectrum is the foundation of the wireless ecosystem – whether it’s enabling a commuter to stream video on a subway train or helping a manufacturer boost efficiency on the factory floor via thousands of interconnected sensors.
It’s no surprise that demand for wireless connectivity is surging, and over the next decade, mobile carriers will need access to more spectrum, particularly mid-band spectrum in the 3 GHz ranges that provides an optimal mix of coverage and capacity. But we can’t just go buy more from a supplier – in the U.S., the federal government controls who gets to use which frequency through allocation decisions and auctioning.
Estimates suggest 5G deployment will create 3.8 million to 4.6 million jobs in the next decade.3
That’s why it’s crucial that Congress and the executive branch create a sustained pipeline of mid-band spectrum for full-power, licensed use. Doing so will provide the resources mobile carriers need to operate the reliable and secure networks maintaining and enhancing America’s economic and technological leadership.
The bottom line
The rapid growth that we’ve seen over the years made possible by the internet cannot continue without thoughtful, calculated planning and action for each of these pipelines.
We’ll continue to work with policymakers to help develop and implement the solutions that are right for the future of our country’s network infrastructure. We welcome the opportunity to work together to train more workers, support reliable supply chains and utilize spectrum to drive the economy forward.
1Internet Access and its Implications for Productivity, Inequality, and Resilience | Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago (July 2021)
2Telecommunications Workforce: Additional Workers Will Be Needed to Deploy Broadband, but Concerns Exist About Availability | U.S. Government Accountability Office (December 2022)
35G Promises Massive Job and GDP Growth in the US, Boston Consulting Group | https://api.ctia.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/5G-Promises-Massive-Job-and-GDP-Growth-in-the-US_Feb-2021.pdf (February 2021)