Chief U.S. economics adviser talks broadband

Jason Fuhrman, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, told the business-oriented American Enterprise Institute that telecommunications policy and productivity are closely linked.

He said in his remarks, “Total Factor Productivity and Telecommunications: Policy Ingredients for Shared Growth,” that:

“Improved telecommunications infrastructure, particularly fast and widely-accessible wired and wireless broadband networks, enables synergistic technological advances in business, healthcare, education, public safety, entertainment, and more. In education alone, it carries enormous potential to improve student learning and reduce achievement gaps.”

In his speech, Fuhrman quoted from the White House’s “Four Years of Broadband Growth” on the rapid expansion of telecommunications.

  • Just two of the largest U.S. telecommunications companies account for a greater combined stateside investment than the top five oil and gas companies, and nearly four times more than the big three auto companies combined.
  • In the last four years annual investment in U.S. wireless networks grew more than 40 percent from $21 billion to $30 billion.
  • The United States leads the world in the availability of advanced 4G wireless broadband Internet services such as LTE; nearly half of the global subscriber base for 4G LTE is in the United States.
  • The United States ranks among the top countries in the world in the amount of currently licensed spectrum available for mobile broadband.

At the same time, Fuhrman noted that technological expansion, and productivity growth don’t necessarily accrue to everyone.

“... we need to be mindful,” he said, “that everything is not always equal and that new technologies can create digital divides and other new avenues for increased inequality. Combatting that is not just important for the middle class and those struggling to get into the middle class, but ultimately, it's also good for productivity growth too, as expanding access and skills for technology to more people means that we have more talent to draw on in growing the economy. So we need to pay attention to measures that make sure that everyone shares in the benefits of technological progress."

Speed Matters agrees that technological growth must be accompanied by equitable distribution of its benefits.

“Total Factor Productivity and Telecommunications: Policy Ingredients for Shared Growth,” (Jason Furman, Chairman, Council of Economic AdvisersSep. 17, 2013)

Four Years Of Broadband Growth (Office of Science and Technology Policy & The National Economic Council, Jun. 2013)