Monday was President’s Day and many, including ANPI, celebrated the holiday. And although, I was actually working, I decided to delay the blog since many of you would miss it. Therefore, this is the first blog of the week. For those of you who have read this blog for a few years you know that each year I analyze the President’s State of the Union Address to see if he mentions telecommunications. Each year he does not surprise me. He doesn’t. This year out of 6831 words, President Obama mentioned telecommunications zero times. However, in a reference to Siemens of America (a telecommunications company), he did mention the word “Internet” while discussing the need for local infrastructure that can support the demands of business leaders. Of course, the reference was in conjunction with high-speed rail, high-tech schools and self-healing power grids. Clearly, mentioning the Internet was not purposeful. It was merely one of a list of infrastructure initiatives that the President believes congress and local governments should support.
It is interesting to me that telecom, telecommunications, wireless or even smartphone didn’t make the speech when the President did a shout out to Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. It’s okay to refer to Apple as creating jobs in the US since so many of their products are made offshore, but the iPhone or iPad could have been mentioned as “mobile” devices. But why should our leaders indifference to such a key technology be any different than how other world leaders view the role of telecommunications. Last year the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) sent a letter to the G20 in Mexico suggesting that an increase in the availability of broadband would contribute to the recovery of the global economy. Ultimately, the G20 issued a Statement of Declarations containing 8,094 words. In the Statement there was not a single mention of “Internet”, “broadband”, “wireless”, “telecom” or “phone”. Entitled “High Level Panel on Infrastructure” with 37 pages there was only one mention of “telecommunications” and that was, again, in a list of other infrastructure items.
Why is our industry ignored as a major contributor to the world’s economies? Perhaps, it’s because our products work. We are not viewed as needing the visibility of education, energy, manufacturing, the debt, etc. However, we do need that visibility to promote excellent service in rural areas, increase the speed and access of broadband nationwide while decreasing the cost, protect the consumer’s interest in purchasing Internet related services without service provider bias (net neutrality), and promote the development of future technologies.
Maybe next year we will get the attention we deserve during the State of the Union. In any event, the state of our industry is strong.