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Mary N. Dillon: Wireless investment means jobs

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Throughout America, people depend on their mobile devices more than ever before. From day-to-day business, to keeping in touch with family and friends, to public safety, reliable wireless service is a necessity everywhere Americans live, work and travel -- in both urban and rural communities.By 2018, only 8 percent of households will have landline telephone service, according to the Federal Communication Commission's Technology Advisory Council.Soon, on your mobile device you'll be capable of making high quality video calls, making payments, sending real-time data to your doctor or lifesaving pictures to a 9-1-1 operator. People living in urban areas will soon experience these exciting new applications, but our rural communities are in danger of being left behind.That's because a proposal, sponsored by providers of landline telephone service and currently under consideration by the FCC, if adopted, would dramatically cut funding for rural mobile wireless networks.Over the next decade, the proposal would lead to investing $42 billion of the Universal Service Fund -- established by Congress to help bring telecommunications services to rural areas -- in outdated landline service, leaving just $3 billion to invest in mobile wireless broadband infrastructure.That's right -- this proposal would invest $14 in landline networks for every $1 invested in mobile broadband networks. Does this imbalance make sense to anyone other than to the landline companies proposing it?
West Virginia could potentially lose up to $70 million that could have been used for new mobile wireless broadband sites and infrastructure over the next 10 years.In this day and age, Americans can't be tethered to a phone on the wall, or a desktop computer. Everyone needs mobile wireless Internet access to compete in the global economy.Wireless broadband investment would accelerate our economic recovery. A recent report by Deloitte projects the creation of 15,000 jobs for every $1 billion invested in mobile wireless broadband. This means if we invested the same $42 billion into new wireless broadband networks, 630,000 new American jobs would be created.The FCC is making a decision soon, so make your voice heard at wirelessbroadbandforall.com. Urge the FCC and Congress to prioritize high-speed wireless broadband over yesterday's landline technology.Every investment decision we make must look to the future and make all our communities more competitive. America can't win without wireless.Dillon is president and CEO of U.S. Cellular Corporation.   
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