A coalition largely made up of call center companies is planning to hire 100,000 new employees in the U.S. over the next two years thanks to advancements in broadband access, with some of the jobs returning from overseas, the Federal Communications Commission chairman said.
"It's our hope that this is not going to be a one-time thing, but that this is part of a virtuous cycle of job creation and demand generation that will lead to more job creation," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Genachowski is scheduled to announce the jobs commitment Thursday in the southern Indiana town of Jeffersonville, where Accent Marketing Services is building a new facility that will add 175 jobs that pay about $13 an hour.
Accent Marketing is part of Jobs4America, a coalition that also includes the nonprofit American Teleservices Association trade group, Sprint Nextel Corp. and other companies and organizations.
The jobs will help revive communities hard hit by the economic downturn, Genachowski said. For example, Novo 1 has created 300 jobs in Holland, Mich., and LiveOps plans to add 100 jobs by the end of the year in Newark, N.J. Aegis Global has committed to hiring more workers in St. Lucie, Fla., and has set a goal of adding 4,000 jobs nationwide over the next two years.
The total commitment is 100,000 jobs, and "we expect that each of these companies will deliver on their commitments," Genachowski said.
Some of those jobs will be returning from India and the Philippines. While some American customers were frustrated by dealing with language and cultural barriers in dealing with overseas operators, improvement in broadband availability was key to the jobs returning, Genachowski said.
Broadband also will allow some people to work from home, he said.
"It's not like the old days where a call center operator is taking a call and answering questions with a few pieces of paper in front of them. Modern call centers involve people in front of computers with access to a quantity of information that only broadband connectivity can provide," Genachowski said.
About 20 million Americans don't have access to broadband, and another 100 million choose not to access it either because of the cost or concerns about security, according to the FCC. President Barack Obama's administration has said that ensuring all parts of the country have high-speed Internet access is critical for economic development.
"Bringing broadband to a community in the 21st century is like bringing the railroad to a community in the 20th century. It empowers that community to be part of commerce and to have all the benefits for being an integral part of our economy," he said.