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Telecoms Leadership and the State of the Union

Before, during and after his inaugural speech (January 2009) President Obama spoke of the national benefits of broadband, and the changes which have been set in motion in the US telecoms market that were unheard of even a year ago. During the previous administration the incumbent telcos and cable companies had been given more freedom. As a consequence, innovation and competition dwindled and the US was no longer a leader in telecoms. With the digital economy just around the corner the new administration clearly sees telecoms as a spearhead in its social and economic policies.

However, since that time, the White House has lost some of its initial leadership. Rather than continuing to directly lead the changes as they did before and after the Inauguration, they handed that leadership back to partisan politicians. Congress and Senate are still heavily dominated by the lobbying of the vested interests and a lot of them are more interested in their own political power, which is severely damaging the national interest of America. There is no way that under those out-of-date political arrangements these politicians can lead the country in a democratic way.

The President obviously is very much aware of this, hence his State of the Union address. The current political environment is not particularly conducive to the introduction of the serious changes that the White House are proposing, the President will have to regain leadership and has to come back with innovative policies along the lines that myself and others have been discussing with his advisors in the White House.

These policies need to be developed on a step-by-step basis, rather than just concentrating on the support of Congress—perhaps more time needs to be spent to win the support of the people. The President had and largely still has the people behind him, and he should show leadership to these people, and together with them make these steps. It will be hard for the politicians to continuously keep blocking policies that are clearly supported by the people of America.

Rather than trying to reform Washington, perhaps the White House should, in parallel, work with the people and businesses to get new innovative policies implemented. Leadership is contagious, in Australia the Liberal Opposition behaves exactly like the Republicans in the USA—they vote everything down. However the Government is supported by everybody else, they have even been able to win the support of the incumbent telco, and that will ensure that the NBN will be built in this country, despite the politics. The USA cannot afford to not make changes similar to those that are taking place in other developed telecoms markets.

By Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication

Paul is also a contributor of the Paul Budde Communication blog located here.

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