John Kerry spoke today at The New Republic’s conference on telecommunications policy. The forum focused on the reauthorization of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
Senator Kerry’s remarks follow as prepared:
“Ten years ago, ‘broadband’ wasn’t part of our vocabulary. Today, 35 million households enjoy broadband service - a lot more, but nothing compared to what they’re doing in South Korea and elsewhere. Ten years ago only 25 million people used any wireless device. Today, 192 million Americans use cell phones, PDAs or laptops with WiFi access - again, a huge improvement, although not to the level of some of our competitors. There’s no doubt much has changed since Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and we all tend to focus on the technological changes. But the important changes have not been limited to technological innovation.
“The industry has undergone a massive restructuring. Businesses that never competed with each other-whether due to differences in technology, geography or regulation-are now in direct competition. As a result, telecomm is a fundamentally different industry today than it was in 1996.
“The same goes for our economy. The rapid globalization of the past ten years has transformed the rules by which nearly every American business must operate. If we handle it right, this new arena can be a mutually beneficial opportunity for the telecom industry and the economy. Innovation is the great currency today, and this industry has plenty to spare. A new wave of change powered by a mass market in broadband and high-capacity Internet service can bring interactivity, full-motion video and a host of other functions rich in data and experience.
Read the full speech here.