By: Melanie L. Campbell, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
Wondering what your wireless experience will be like in a year or two? As Washington Post’s Paul Farhi sees it, “Prepare to sit and wait. That call to Grandma might not get through until the congestion clears.”
Why the congestion? The answer is all around us. We’re gobbling up wireless data like spectrum grows on trees. Just two examples:
- About 25% of smartphone owners say they usually use a phone, not a computer, for Internet access. (Pew Internet Project)
- Mobile video streaming will double over the next 12 months. (NPD Group estimate)
The reality is, our phones aren’t really phones anymore; they are more like mini computers that happen to take calls. Last week, the CEO of AT&T hit the nail on the head when he said that among young people “It’s almost uncool to talk on the phone.”
Welcome to the future.
If ever there is a time to fully advance President Obama’s vision for an America with universal and affordable broadband, through the National Broadband Plan, that time is now. But, in order to achieve that vision, the government needs to take swift and decisive action now.
Why now? By acting swiftly to make spectrum more readily available, the government will have a great opportunity to help spur economic growth and have a more immediate impact on jobs, innovation and education.
As I understand it, the fastest way to make spectrum available to wireless users is to hold a spectrum auction open to all qualifying companies. I believe, the potential benefits of such decisive action would:
- Fast-track the auction process, which…
- Supports ramped up investment, which…
- Adds more bandwidth that developers then use to continue innovating, small businesses use to continue hiring, and the education sector uses to retrain the chronically unemployed
So, America, I don’t believe we have a wireless problem. What we have is a historic opportunity to close the digital divide, create good high-tech jobs, increase access to quality affordable health care and increase educational opportunity and much more by making sure the regulations of public spectrum auctions are fair, swift and decisive.
MELANIE L. CAMPBELL is the president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable Intergenerational Public Policy Network. Ms. Campbell has served in the civil rights, social justice, youth and women’s rights movement for over 20 years.