To Unleash the Power of Small Business Growth and Innovation, Spectrum is Essential

By at 5 October, 2022, 5:09 pm


by Karen Kerrigan-

Technology and broadband access continue to play a central role in driving entrepreneurial innovation, small business resiliency and growth. Of course, these tools were critical during the pandemic when entrepreneurs, business owners and their employees – and entities large and small across the United States – were able to “pivot” to digital tools and online platforms to keep our country moving forward. Our telecommunications networks held up impressively under the extraordinary and unprecedented surge in demand. And the digital economy has now surged forward, which means the possibility of new and exciting technologies and broadband tools for small businesses. These tools and uses, made possible through 5G, will benefit local economies across the U.S. and will be critical in driving small business growth.

As much as we may like to think the digital world all happened by magic, of course that is not the case. Trillions of dollars in private sector investment ($2 trillion alone that communications providers have spent building our networks) has made the digital economy and all if its useful tools possible. But the next wave of digital tools requires a key delivery vehicle – that is, licensed spectrum (the invisible radio frequencies that wireless signals travel over) – to enhance connectivity and bring new technologies to market, and to end-users like entrepreneurs and their workforce.

new Accenture report on spectrum allocation in the United States (commissioned by CTIA) finds that the wireless industry has access to a mere 5% of lower mid-band spectrum, while “unlicensed spectrum users have access to 7X and government users have access to 12X that amount.” The report also identified the three blocks of spectrum that “offer the greatest potential for 5G expansion.” 

U.S. networks are supporting more data traffic today than from 2010 to 2017 combined! Access to mid-band spectrum is not only necessary to keep up with growing demand, but it is also necessary, again, for bringing the full promise of 5G to entrepreneurs, their workers and local communities. The innovations spawned via 5G technology will help small businesses operate more efficiently and allow them to engage with customers and do business in creative and unimaginable ways.

Moreover, the growth of U.S. entrepreneurship and competitiveness depend on more spectrum to fuel 5G expansion. The current surge in entrepreneurial activity is being driven by digital opportunity and our infrastructure must support this new wave of business owners. In addition, our global competitors are moving faster in providing mid-band spectrum for 5G use, which means those economies and their businesses will gain a significant edge over U.S. firms – we cannot allow that to happen.

Policy must balance government and commercial spectrum access. If President Biden and Congress want our economy to return to robust growth and offer inclusive opportunities for financial well-being and success, access to the digital economy and all its tools is central to those goals. Spectrum provides the pipeline to make that happen, and policies must focus on making more of it available – specifically mid-band spectrum – in order for every American to secure economic opportunity.

Karen Kerrigan is president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council


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