On June 22, the PA Chamber joined dozens of state and local chambers in signing on to a coalition letter sent by the US Chamber to Congress urging the inclusion in an infrastructure bill of an embrace of public-private partnerships to deploy broadband, address affordability and modernize government IT systems.
Three days later, legislators in Harrisburg took an important step to encourage additional investment and innovation in Pennsylvania. On Friday, June 25, the Senate passed H.B. 1621, legislation supported by the PA Chamber that will streamline the deployment of small cell and 5G wireless and broadband technology. Infrastructure, including for telecommunications, is a key pillar of the PA Chamber’s member-driven Bringing PA Back initiative, and the PA Chamber applauded the strong, bipartisan vote in both chambers for this legislation. The law will encourage the installation of wireless and broadband technology to meet growing demand for data as well as accommodate the next generation of technology.
As the pandemic has shown, increasing connectivity and ensuring reliable telecommunications service is paramount to a modern economy. Further, as more and more businesses harness cloud computing, advanced data analytics, automated vehicles, advanced manufacturing capabilities, telemedicine and other innovations, the wireless and broadband networks must be modernized to reduced data congestion and ensure reliable data service. Advances in telecommunications and broadband infrastructure capabilities can also be used to improve public safety, with uses such as enhanced gunshot detection and more responsive real-time adjustments to electric, water and natural gas utility system operations. For consumers more broadly, mobile data traffic is expected to increase seven-fold in the next two years, and robust infrastructure is needed to support this demand.
As the PA Chamber previously noted in testimony to the legislature, the next generation of broadband and wireless technology has the potential to enable up to $12.3 trillion worth of goods and services in 2035 nationwide and it is imperative Pennsylvania compete for this growth. Emerging mobile technology has the potential over the next decade to create $500 billion in national GDP growth, $275 billion in private investment and 3 million newly created jobs. For various Pennsylvania cities and metro areas, 5G wireless deployment represents a potential increase of more than $3.5 billion in GDP growth and thousands of new jobs, according to one study. Another report estimates the potential economic benefits for Pennsylvania at nearly $23 billion in increased GDP and more than 17,000 new jobs.