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Is 4G wireless the key to a jobs recovery?

Unemployed sales manager Nick Fiacco arranges interviews on his smartphone while waiting to meet potential employers at a sales and management career fair on July 20, 2011 in Westminster, Colo.

Deloitte says that U.S. wireless companies will invest somewhere between $25 billion and $53 billion between 2012 and 2016. That investment, says the consulting firm, should lead to hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

From Deloitte's report:

The $25 billion figure assumes a baseline scenario in which U.S. 4G deployment proceeds at a moderate pace and the transition from 3G to 4G extends to the middle of the decade. Under these conditions, U.S. firms are vulnerable to incursions by foreign competitors capitalizing on aggressive efforts in their home markets to deploy 4G networks and develop 4G-based devices and services.

The $53 billion figure assumes a scenario in which U.S. carriers invest more rapidly in 4G networks and start to produce popular 4G-based offerings before global competitors gain traction. In this scenario, the demand stimulated by new offerings justifies more network investment, setting off a virtuous cycle of investment and market response that positions the U.S. to retain its mobile broadband leadership.

Phil Asmundson, vice chairman and U.S. media and telecommunications sector leader from Deloitte LLC, says these are jobs building out and maintaining the networks. "It really is the jobs required within network suppliers of 4G devices," he says. "The network, the construction it takes to put this in place. And all the people that need to be hired."

Ken Rehbehn is a principal analyst from the Yankee Group. He says the potential of bigger and faster networks goes beyond the personnel working on those networks. "Putting radio equipment across the U.S. will have a benefit in terms of the jobs," he says. "But that's probably not where the big win is. It's probably more in setting the foundation for companies that are bringing applications or services that can leverage the new capabilities of the new mobile network. So we're looking at entertainment and business communications with the cloud, as well as bringing higher speed broadband to rural users than what may have been previously practical when each household was wired up with copper wire."

Asmundson says we are in a time of great opportunity with wireless. "What we are trying to do is make sure everyone is aware of the stakes involved when you move from 3G to 4G," he says. "This doesn't come along every year. 3G came into being in 2001. I think it's important to think about what 4G really is. 1G was the ability to talk. 2G took talking and combined it with text. 3G comes along and now there's talking, text, email internet, and the apps economy. 4G is really going to be that opportunity to literally leave your computer behind."

Also in today's program, Ars Technica video game writer Ben Kuchera joins us to talk about the new game Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which he says is an outstanding exploration of what it means to be human.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.

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