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FCC promises 100,000 jobs through 'call centers'

By Paul Courson, CNN
  • FCC chairman to unveil project to open call centers in the United States
  • Jobs4America hopes to generate 100,000 jobs in the next two years
  • The call centers will provide a variety of consumer support services

Washington (CNN) -- When you call customer service in the time ahead, chances should improve that you will reach someone in the United States, with a forecast of 100,000 new jobs at call centers to be created the next two years, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

In an announcement expected Thursday at a call center in Jeffersonville, Indiana, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will detail how small towns are replacing jobs lost from declining industry with new jobs made possible by upgrades in local Internet service.

"A number of them are new jobs created in the U.S., and a number of them are the onshoring of jobs moving back to the U.S. from overseas," Genachowski told CNN, "They're all fueled by broadband, by high-speed Internet."

Reached by cellphone on his way to the event, he explained companies with a significant amount of business conducted electronically can save money by locating their customer service here instead of other countries, "through a combination of new facilities and also by letting people do it in their homes."

"In many places it has been the infrastructure," along with labor costs that drove some call center jobs away from the United States, Genachowski said, "we now have infrastructure in the U.S. to run customer service centers right here."

A business coalition called "Jobs4America" is announcing the project with the FCC to target areas with high unemployment.

Not all the jobs will be located at centralized buildings. Developments in software will enable workers, while at home, to receive and originate electronic communications with customers as part of "virtual call centers," where a given community's workforce is recruited as part of a system.

The savings to business comes from not having to build a centralized facility for the service.

"That is a big part of it," Genachowski said.

"Some of the hundred-thousand jobs will be in new facilities," he said, but "the company itself is indifferent to whether the call center operators are in a facility or at the home," because broadband will support the communications needed for customer service.

Genachowski acknowledged that some of the call centers will be geared toward telemarketing, using native English speakers to help sell products, but he said the bulk of the U.S. based customer service jobs will help communications between firms and existing customers.

Genachowski will be at a call center that services the Char-Broil outdoor cooking chain and the discount retailer BJ's Warehouse. The center's activities have been based in India, the FCC said. The move is creating 175 jobs in the United States.

Jobs4America, in a statement, said the jobs will include "marketing and sales communication with consumers, as well as chat, social media monitoring, and web and phone-based self-service options," such as obtaining information about product recalls and the status of discount rebates for which consumers have applied.

The contact center industry, as the group describes the field, has recruited a number of companies to create U.S.-based jobs to help cut unemployment. The firms provide customer service on a contract basis for well-known retailers, health care providers, and other corporations.

A tally of jobs from members of Jobs4America includes:

Aegis Global 4000 jobs

Alpine Access 4000 jobs

Accent 2000 jobs

Novo1 1000 jobs

Back Office Support Systems 1000 jobs

Sprint 600 jobs

Etech 250 jobs

CallAssistant 250 jobs

AnswerNet 200 jobs

QCSS, Inc. 200 jobs