Mobile broadband has the potential to rescue the global economy from meltdown and solve internet connectivity and productivity problems in the developing world, according to a lobby group of mobile broadband providers, telecommunications firms and mobile phone manufacturers.
In a document submitted to leaders of Group of 20 (G20) nations, the group claims that the construction and deployment of mobile broadband networks is capable of creating 25 million jobs worldwide. The letter adds that should the “productivity revolution” of mobile phones be emulated by mobile broadband it is possible that global GDP could be boosted by between three to four per cent.
Further benefits of the mobile broadband roll-out are that it will connect millions of people in less developed countries, which in turn would help improve their economic situation. This is especially pertinent in areas of the world, such as Africa and South America, where fixed line networks are less prevalent, it is claimed.
In the letter, the industry outlines its strategy for enacting the roll out of mobile broadband. This involves around £550 million of investment, over half of which is earmarked for mobile broadband. This money is to-hand without financial assistance from the government.
The document states: "This boost to the global economy at this critical time will also enable widespread internet access, stimulating significant productivity enhancements and social benefits.”
However, in order to justify this expenditure, the industry is calling for a relaxation of regulatory frameworks on the part of global governments. It claims that under the present regime, mobile phone companies would not be able to generate a sufficient return on its investment. In particular what is said to be needed is an approach to regulation that is “stable, predictable and minimally intrusive”.
The industry’s concern over the impact of regulation comes just weeks after it was confirmed that operators must cut the cost of using phones in the EU. The order from the telecommunications commissioner Viviane Reding limits what telecoms companies can charge for using each other’s networks. Although this is regarded as a boon for consumers, it is expected to dramatically impact on revenues for operators.
Just as likely to be worrying the sector is the fear that auctions could be held for running 3G mobile phone services in the developing world. This was the system used when the networks were being rolled out in Europe in the 1990s and is believed to have severely hit the viability of 3G, which only became profitable with the advent of the mobile broadband boom in recent years.
Alongside mobile broadband providers, among the telecommunications industry players who are behind the campaign are the trade body of the mobile phone industry the GSM Association and a host of handset manufacturers including Nokia.