Obama Slips His National Wireless Initiative into His American Jobs Act
President Obama presented Congress with the official draft of his jobs bill on Monday, dubbed the American Jobs Act of 2011. Within it's 155 pages is a nearly 29-page section called the National Wireless Initiative (Full text, PDF). Hmm. You may remember the NWI when the President first introduced the idea in his State of the Union address and then presented it in detail in February.
So, here it is again. The President projects that the Federal government can raise $27.8 billion over the next decade by auctioning off wireless spectrum, something wireless carriers eagerly want the government to do. Under Obama's plan, $10 billion of this money will pay for an expansion of the Public Safety Broadband Network and to build out wireless broadband to cover 98% of the nation. (Where do you think that other 2% is located? The Alaskan tundra?). The remaining $17.8 billion will go toward paying down the nation's deficit.
These post-deficit-battle numbers are flip flopped from the plan he detailed a mere seven months ago in February, which spent $18 billion of the earnings and applied $9.8 billion toward paying down debt. Items like the President's proposed Wireless Innovation Fund (cutely nicknamed "WIN") took big cuts. In February, Obama suggested WIN be a $3 billion fund to support the R&D of cutting-edge wireless technologies. This time, the fund was sliced down to $300 million.
Look, Nation, no wires!
Wireless may be wonderful, but why was NWI stuck into the American Jobs Act? Because research shows that wireless equals jobs. "Recent data shows that making additional spectrum available for wireless will lead to 500,000 new jobs in America," said Jonathan Spalter, chairman of the non-profit wireless industry think tank Mobile Future, in a written statement.
A report that Mobile Future released in August spelled it out: "Building on previous studies, we estimate that the reassignment of 300 MHz of spectrum to mobile broadband within five years will spur $75 billion in new capital spending, creating more than 300,000 jobs and $230 billion in additional Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The release of an additional 200 MHz of new spectrum after five years will create an additional 200,000 jobs and increase GDP by an additional $155 billion."
Plus the study said the economy would benefit from a "spillover" effect. Companies like Apple, Google, Qualcomm and small application developers would boom as they created new mobile broadband applications to be carried upon all that ubiquitous bandwidth. Here's wishing wireless and jobs for all.