For example, because the Bells hoard the bandwidth they control, small businesses cannot hope to match large enterprises in the emerging field of cloud computing. Nor do current FCC rules allow small businesses the efficiencies and cost-savings of high-resolution video conferencing, highly secure data protection and sophisticated video security systems.
Broadband applications like these don’t get delivered to small businesses because the most innovative competitors are denied access to the bandwidth necessary to support them. Small businesses have no choice but to try to use 20th century business tools to create new jobs in a 21st century global marketplace.
This is not a minor issue. Small businesses inject almost a trillion dollars into the economy each year. They have created more than 93 percent of all new jobs over the last twenty years and employ more than half of the U.S. workforce. They also employ 41 percent of the nation’s high-tech workers who generate about thirteen times more patents per employee than do workers at large firms.
Hence the opportunity for the administration to adopt a “cashless stimulus”: the FCC can fix this problem simply and almost without cost. The FCC should require the Bell monopolies to sell — at retail prices — the bandwidth necessary for competitors like Cbeyond to provide next generation broadband applications to small businesses.
With new broadband rules in place, services like cloud computing could replace high-end desktop computers. Small businesses could look to carriers for affordable, offsite data security instead of paying more for on-site services. Reliance on expensive and inefficient travel for in-person meetings would give way to high-resolution video conferencing. Start-up costs for small businesses would fall as the hardware necessary for running their operations moved off the business premise and into the cloud. The list goes on and on.
It’s time we took advantage of the one approach to economic recovery that doesn’t come with a long-term economic cost.
Jim Geiger is founder, chairman, president & CEO of Cbeyond, Inc. in Atlanta.