Mobile Future

Building virtual bridges brings us a wireless world

Mobile Future board member Diane Smith spoke today before the Duluth Chamber of Commerce.  In addition to her speech, Diane had an op-ed that ran in the Duluth News Tribune.  Below is the text from the op-ed.

With lifestyles becoming increasingly mobile and fast-paced, businesses and
consumers are turning to innovative wireless technologies to expand
accessibility and connectivity and to increase efficiency. In Minnesota, more than 17
percent of households have abandoned landlines in favor of consolidating to
wireless devices. Today, 99 percent of Americans are living in counties where
wireless service is available. That means cutting-edge technology, and the
exponential benefit that come with it, is within reach of nearly every
American.

Coast to coast, mobile devices are not only changing how we
manage our lives and businesses, but also where we run them. I know firsthand
the impact mobile technology can have on entrepreneurial opportunities in rural
America. I moved from a large city to
rural Montana,
where I co-founded a technology company that now employs 50 people and has
significant funding from top-tier venture capital firms. We could not have
succeeded without great talent, great determination and a great communications
infrastructure.

Today, wireless communications allow us to grow and run
businesses in urban, suburban, even rural America. Consumers in rural areas are
embracing wireless for their communications needs. They recognize the
convenience, mobility and efficiency wireless can provide. The fact is mobile
technology has democratized opportunities across the nation. And commitments
from carriers to expand and enhance coverage in rural areas will continue to
build virtual bridges between rural entrepreneurs and consumers and their urban
counterparts.

Only a few years ago, Americans in rural communities needed
to commute, sometimes hundreds of miles, to reach their doctors or their jobs or
even their banks. That’s time and money. Advances in wireless technology are now
giving everyone, regardless of where they work or live, choice. Instead of
driving an hour to go to the bank, you can manage your account from your phone –
anywhere. Through mobile "telehealth" communications, patients can connect to
medical experts and even specialists – anywhere.

Wireless innovations are
increasing efficiency while decreasing costs to consumers. From telecommuting to
distance learning, it’s no longer about where you have to be, it’s where you
want to be.

The countless new products, services and applications
consumers enjoy today, however, did not appear by accident. Instead, wireless
technologies flourished in an environment that allowed innovators and consumers
to lead, take chances and develop services and products that are integral to
today’s lives. Along the way, wireless innovation spurred economic rejuvenation
and growth, while creating high-tech jobs that pay well, have good benefits and
provide opportunities for training and advancement.

Forward-looking
policymakers support an environment that encourages both the investment and
innovation necessary for the wireless sector to progress. These same
policymakers recognize the significant contributions the wireless industry makes
to local economies. In fact, the wireless industry has sparked one of the
largest private investments in modern history. Since the early 1980s, the total
infrastructure investment tops $250 billion.

Wireless innovations are
effectively eliminating geographic barriers, allowing entrepreneurs to compete
on a virtually level playing field. The potential is limitless. But in order to
fully realize the vast benefits of wireless, we need to maintain an environment
that continues to encourage investment and innovation in mobile technologies.
These tools will be fundamental to building a 21st-century infrastructure that
promotes job creation and fuels economic growth – in all corners of our
country.

DIANE SMITH serves on the board of Mobile Future (mobile
future.org) and was co-founder and chief executive officer of Auroras
Entertainment, an advanced media services company in Kalispell, Mont. She will be a keynote speaker at the
Duluth Chamber of Commerce’s Northern Networks Conference, which is being held
today and tomorrow.