From connected cars to cutting-edge medical devices, U.S. consumers are increasingly using a vast array of wireless services that are forever changing the way we live, learn, work, play, and stay healthy and safe. In an effort to keep pace with exploding consumer demand and industry innovation, at least eight wireless carriers currently are working aggressively to roll out next-generation mobile infrastructure for everywhere/anytime high-speed connectivity. And in the past five years, wireless carriers have invested $113 billion to help ensure our nation has one of the most robust wireless infrastructures in the world. That is by far the most investment made in our nation's economy than any other sector. As a result, today, the U.S. leads the world in 4G network deployment.
Why such intensive capital investment? In a highly competitive mobile environment where consumers have a range of choices, service quality matters. Mobile broadband speeds, too, have a major impact on consumer loyalty. No surprise, then, that in 2011, the average mobile connection speed was up 94% from 2010 and is anticipated to grow six-fold by 2016.
Encouraged by the U.S. government's long-standing and all-too-rare bipartisan approach of disciplined restraint when it comes to our innovation economy and communications policy, competing U.S. providers are fiercely trying to 'one-up' each other with more bleeding-edge, faster networks and better service. Wireless providers, including AT&T, Clearwire, C Spire, MetroPCS, Sprint, T-Mobile , U.S. Cellular and Verizon are rolling out competitive 4G services. One clear result of this increasing competition? Two thirds of the world's 4G LTE users are here in the U.S. And, the leadership gap will only widen from here. It is estimated that by 2014, the number of 4G LTE users in the United States will exceed the number of LTE subscribers in Europe and Asia combined, laying a solid foundation for our connected mobile innovation economy--thanks to consumer-driven competition.
Another key byproduct of multiple network operators competing for U.S. customers? Some of the greatest mobile "bang for your buck" in the world. Americans consume more wireless minutes, messages and data than anywhere else around the globe, all while paying some of the lowest prices.
As network providers continue to invest billions of dollars into building out the wireless infrastructure, as innovators across the country dream-up new services and products, and as Americans continue to sign-up in unprecedented numbers to reap the benefits of our mobile future, the U.S. government policies, both in word and deed, must continue on a bipartisan path of fostering a pro-investment, pro-innovation environment, where consumers continue to drive the mobile market.
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Jonathan Spalter, chairman of Mobile Future, has been founding CEO of leading technology, media, and research companies, including Public Insight, Snocap, and Atmedica Worldwide. He served in the Clinton Administration as a Director on the National Security Council.