As Canada slides down into tech oblivion thanks to a government that continues to put big business ahead of the consumer it is interesting to see that in the US you have a president who apparently gets the fact that technology is a major road forward for the country.
In his recent State of the Union address President Obama talked about rebooting American innovation
Now it’s our turn. We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time. We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business. We need to take responsibility for our deficit, and reform our government. That’s how our people will prosper. That’s how we’ll win the future. And tonight, I’d like to talk about how we get there.
The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation.
Immediate following his speech the most asked questions from both sides of the political poles was how was this innovation going to be paid for. The obvious point being that all hell would break loose if the government was planning on footing the bill.
Well we got our answer, in part anyway, today with the announcement of the Startup America campaign and some of the companies that would be involved with the campaign. According to Bloomberg this will be a private-sector lead initiative with AOL co-founder Steve Case leading the campaign. Some of the companies that have said they will support the initiative include: Facebook, Intel – with a $150 million pledge, and TECHStars.
On the surface this sounds like a great idea, except, there’s one glaring omission in the list of companies. You see not a peep has been heard from any of the broadband providers.
Why is this important?
Well, regardless of what sector of our lives we are talking about the Internet is playing an ever increasing role, and no where more than in the tech sector. You can’t even think of a tech company these days without some connection to the Web being an integral component of that business.
And we aren’t talking about your run of the mill Web either. We are talking about a big fat pipe broadband Web for both companies and consumers. We are talking about needing to have the very best broadband connectivity in the world. We are talking about a connectivity that is ubiquitous and has the lowest bar to access in the world.
But America doesn’t have that. It has an Internet controlled by companies that are increasingly adding data or time caps on connections. It has an Internet where a small minority of companies are consolidating in order to be able to control a larger part of the Web.
You can have all the tech companies in the country contributing all the money they want but it will mean bupkis as long as the broadband providers hold the keys to accessing the Web.
These are companies that have no interest in innovation but would rather continue on with the current status quo, and will only changed when absolutely forced to. Unfortunately though no-one has the balls to stand up to them so we continue along the same path of apathy.
The president can make all the swell speeches he wants about how America does big things when in fact nothing gets done unless Wall Street wants it to. Lobbyists continue to pad politician’s retirement funds; and of all of them the broadband providers will pay what ever it takes to stifle innovation because to do otherwise would mean giving up control and money. They will continue to make record profits while expending as little money as possible on the back of the consumer and those companies that truly do want to make America great again.