Clinton: businesses need Korean broadband speeds
By Tim Danton in Texas
Posted on 13 Dec 2012 at 14:27
President Bill Clinton says businesses need broadband speeds comparable to those in parts of Asia to compete in the global market.
In an echo of the broadband argument rumbling in the UK, Clinton believes the US needs to invest in fast, universal broadband throughout the country.
Delivering the opening keynote at Dell World in Texas, the former president said: "You want to help small businesses, you want to help your entrepreneurs, you want to make it possible for people living in remote towns and upstate New York and West Texas to be part of the global economy? Then stop pretending we can do it with South Korea having average download speeds of four times ours."
When I became president the average cell phone weighed five pounds, there were a grand total of 50 websites on the entire internet
President Clinton said he was a great believer in the disruptive power of the internet, although admitted he sent only two emails during his entire eight-year term in office: one to US troops serving in the Balkans and one to a 77-year-old astronaut.
"When I became president [in 1993] the average cell phone weighed five pounds, there were a grand total of 50 websites on the entire internet. That was it," he quipped.
Nevertheless, Clinton has grown to appreciate the benefits of e-commerce. "I love the way the internet enables people to make unusual partnerships and to do things differently and to try, and not be afraid to fail and go on and do something else," he told the thousand-strong audience.
"I think the availability of technology to short circuit the otherwise very lengthy process of building effective systems can make a difference."
As an example, he explained how Scotiabank joined forces with DigiCel, Haiti’s largest cellphone company, to break the stranglehold of local banks who were charging "45 to 65% interest for a small business loan".
"So we got Scotiabank, a Canadian bank, and DigiCel, the largest cell phone company [in Haiti], to team up because very few Haitians have a bank account but almost all of them have a cell phone. So they offered basic banking services, and it exploded. And all of a sudden we had the makings of a real consumer economy."
Clinton cited the importance of this type of "creative cooperation" in the fields of science and health, explaining how initial research on the human genome took $3 billion of funding and ten years, and is now saving lives. "It shows you the power of creative cooperation. Because the genome research was done mostly by scientists working in university laboratories, paid for mostly by governments."
Now the work continues through "networks of creative cooperation" powered by a mixture of private companies such as Qualcomm, universities and government.
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