Deloitte Report Finds That US Lead in Mobile Telecom Widens

NEW YORK, Sept.3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a new Deloitte report, mobile broadband is quickly growing to be recognized as a substantial component of technological eminence, as well as the United States economy as a whole. The report finds that the U.S. increased its position in the mobile broadband market by 11 percent in the most recent periods covered in Deloitte's mobile index that compares the U.S. against 19 other countries, each with established mobile broadband sectors, using 15 competitive indicators. As a result, the U.S. increased its lead by about 44 percent, essentially recovering the ground it lost over the last several years to return to a lead similar to which it had in 2008. Canada, the third ranked region, strengthened its position by gaining about 6 percent, while China continued its nearly decade-long upward movement of about a 5 percent increase.

However, the U.S. position has not always been strong. From 2006 to 2009, roughly three-quarters of the U.S. lead vanished even as the country actively advanced mobile broadband capabilities, largely because other countries and their governments made significant investments in developing and growing their mobile broadband capabilities and usage. In other words, during this period, the U.S. lead did not shrink due to a lack of effort or decline in capabilities, but simply because global competitors improved faster.  

According to the report, if the U.S. loses its current position as the global leader in mobile broadband, the economic consequences at home could be severe. The top spot could be in jeopardy due to a lack of spectrum availability, which could result in diminished technology eminence as well as a direct loss of $67 billion in GDP and 344,000 jobs in less than a decade in the U.S. Moreover, the report notes that the indirect impacts are potentially more significant, with a mobile broadband supply shortage affecting almost every U.S. industry given the pervasiveness of mobile broadband applications, which are increasingly indispensable to businesses and consumers alike. Further, the Internet of Things (IoT) – a growing technology movement to give everyday objects network connectivity is heavily dependent on mobile, putting a potential $1.2 trillion in new economic growth at risk, if spectrum is not available.

This scenario is one of two outlined in the fourth edition of Deloitte's report on mobile broadband and spectrum policy, entitled United States Expands Global Lead in Mobile Broadband. The report explores the future of U.S. spectrum supply over the next decade and updates the firm's proprietary Mobile Communications National Achievement Index. The index compares the U.S. against 19 other countries with established mobile broadband sectors using 15 competitiveness indicators. This report follows the Airwave Overload report from two years ago, and updates the index produced at that time.

"The good news is that the U.S. is the global leader in mobile broadband and also continues to have a dominant position in other critical aspects of the mobile ecosystem," said Craig Wigginton, partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP, and U.S., global and Americas telecommunications leader. "It's important, however, that we not become complacent. Other countries are aggressively positioning themselves for a time when the U.S. might become vulnerable due to a mobile broadband supply shortage. While industry actions have yielded significant supply improvements and play a vital role in shoring up U.S. mobile broadband leadership in the near-term, there are limits to how much more industry can accomplish with a finite amount of spectrum."

Mobile Broadband Leadership Offers Economic Benefits Beyond the Wireless Industry
The report highlights sustained U.S. leadership in mobile broadband over the past decade, when the mobile ecosystem became a critical component of America's economy. With this leadership comes tremendous potential for emerging mobile applications in areas such as telematics, mobile health, and mobile commerce. Traditional activities can also be improved in non-traditional ways with mobile broadband. For example, a recent survey found that 80 percent of physicians use tablets or smartphones to directly influence patient care, and those physicians achieved an average productivity gain of 1.1 hours per day.

Industry Calls for Better U.S. Policy Actions Related to Spectrum Availability 
Mobile broadband is viewed around the world as a strategic national infrastructure asset and the report flags that several countries are aggressively positioning themselves for a time when the U.S. might become vulnerable due to a mobile broadband supply shortage. For example, China intends to invest $320 billion in broadband infrastructure through 2020 and investment in 4G may reach $16 billion in 2014, while India is planning an auction of up to 100 MHz of additional spectrum in the 700 MHz band that is well suited to wireless broadband.

The U.S. government will play an ever-increasing role in the continuation – or erosion – of U.S. mobile broadband leadership. Despite significant action and innovation, the telecommunications ecosystem is becoming more dependent upon pending government policy to avoid a supply shortfall. According to the report, the pace of government action is a critical factor, given past experience in bringing additional spectrum into the market. History shows that years or even a decade can pass between the initiation of a spectrum reallocation and the point when the spectrum becomes available for use.

The report concludes with a call for a redoubling of U.S. efforts to put spectrum of sufficient quantity and quality into the marketplace in the next few years for wireless carriers to meet demand. By better matching supply to demand, the U.S. will be able to strengthen and extend its mobile broadband lead in a variety of new industry segments, strengthening their global competitive edge.  The report suggests that mobile broadband is becoming so fundamental to our economy that trends in mobile broadband performance could become leading indicators of overall economic performance in the U.S.

For more information and the full Mobile Communications National Achievement Index, please visit Connect with us on Twitter: @DeloitteTMT and the hashtag #mobileindex.

About Deloitte's Technology, Media and Telecommunications practice
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