Emerging media stimulus could
create 200,000 jobs in three months
Other Topics: LTE
Testing, Taiwan WiMAX Center,
Rural Broadband Jobs
Ball State University
January 14, 2009
Muncie, IN -- Ball State University has developed an emerging media
stimulus proposal for President-elect Barack Obama's American Recovery
and Reinvestment Plan (ARRP) that could yield a potential 200,000 jobs
nationwide as early as March.
The initiative, developed by the university's Digital Policy Institute
(DPI), would bring next-generation broadband service to rural and
traditionally underserved areas of the country and immediately create
jobs — the only such economic stimulus plan being proposed to Congress
that accomplishes both, says Robert Yadon, DPI's senior research fellow.
Endorsed by the Organization for the
Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies
(OPASTCO), the initiative — "Deploying Next-Generation Broadband Service
to Rural America" — provides the blueprint for rural telephone companies
to extend advanced broadband services beyond cities such as Baltimore
and Portland, Ore., where successful efforts resulted in the immediate
creation of new jobs, increased production for computer and PDA
manufacturers and billions of dollars of investment in infrastructure.
If adopted, Yadon says, demand for new fiber optics and equipment will
jump immediately, boosting manufacturing. Construction jobs will
increase to begin building out the new fiber networks, while more
computer engineering professionals will be needed to launch and maintain
the system. Consumer electronics companies also will have to ramp up
production of devices enabled for emerging WiMAX technologies and
opportunities to develop and manage new digital content will grow. And
that's just for starters.
Speed and range
"The economic plan proposed by President-elect Barack Obama focuses on
investment and transparent dissemination of funds, and we believe our
Rural Broadband Initiative accomplishes each of those objectives,"
explains Yadon. "Our $28 billion plan could effectively and immediately
help bail out our struggling economy as well as cement Ball State and
Indiana's reputation as leaders in emerging media."
Ball State has already demonstrated its leadership in the field of
emerging media when the university unveiled its $17.7 million Emerging
Media Initiative (EMI) in December 2008. The initiative will build on
Ball State's historic strengths and will invest institutional and new
private resources during the next five years toward making emerging
media a pillar industry of the Hoosier economy.
Establishing part of the groundwork for Ball State's EMI was the
university being among the first entities in the United States to begin
testing Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) in 2006.
The technology provides broadband speed without cables. At the same time
it improves signal strength and expands the range telecommunications
providers can reach from a single transmission and reception point,
improving cost efficiency.
The Rural Broadband Initiative adds to the university's continued
development and dispersal to rural and underserved areas of the country
to what could be the next big thing in wireless computer operability.
On behalf of the small local and rural telecommunications companies in
North America that it represents, OPASTCO is advancing the initiative on
Capitol Hill. In a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, OPASTCO President John Rose urged
Congress to approve the investment in rural broadband infrastructure.
"OPASTCO believes the plan articulated by DPI presents a 'shovel ready'
approach to job creation and infrastructure development," he said.
Most U.S. rural carriers have a first generation, low-speed broadband
network throughout much of their service areas. And while many of these
networks are capable of delivering true high-speed broadband service,
there remain an estimated 5.9 million rural access lines that are unable
to connect to advanced broadband telecommunications that offer a wider
spectrum of services to more urban and suburban residents. Those options
range from online distance education courses to advances in health care
coverage afforded by telemedicine.
Finding the funds
In order to provide a next-generation broadband network, rural carriers
must have reasonable broadband access to the Internet and deploy fiber
optics more broadly within their customer service areas, says Yadon.
"With federal grants covering the costs of fiber build-out, rural
telecommunications providers will have the incentive and ability to turn
their efforts toward developing those currently underserved markets, and
they will expend significant effort in educating and motivating their
new broadband-ready customers to the benefits of next-generation
broadband services," he said.
Yadon and economist colleague Michael Hicks, director of Ball State's
Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER), have even identified a
mechanism for the quick distribution of funds: the ubiquitous Universal
Service Fund. According to Hicks, using the same system that helps
offset telephone bills to consumers in high cost areas could put the
project into motion much quicker than any other proposal being
"Actually, I'd call our proposal 'pre-shovel ready' because the funds
will go directly to the rural telephone companies, allowing them to put
the plan to work and receiving federal funding as soon as it is
approved," Hicks added. "Other plans would have to get filtered through
government agencies and would take months to roll out, and that's not
what our country needs right now."
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