DC Influencer: Q&A with Walter McCormick, president and CEO, US Telecom Association

Walter McCormick, president and CEO of the US Telecom Association, speaks with Jaimy Lee about why broadband is key to economic recovery.

PRWeek: What are the priority issues for US Telecom in 2010?

McCormick: It's really all about the national broadband plan and making sure that policymakers from Congress to the FCC to the White House understand the important role that broadband can play in our nation's economic recovery. What we're doing is working in a constructive way with the Administration and the agencies because we agree, in a 21st century information-based economy, that nothing is more important than broadband deployment and adoption.

PRWeek: How can broadband play a role in economic recovery?

McCormick: Today, half of all the new jobs created in the United States economy are created in the broadband/information technology sector, [which] leads GDP growth. It contributes about $900 billion annually to GDP growth. United States broadband providers are investing at the rate of about $60 billion a year in broadband infrastructure. What that investment is doing is creating jobs.

PRWeek: What other components of the US Telecom message have changed in the last year?

McCormick: President Obama won office by organizing people across the country to support his candidacy in ways that made use of broadband technologies and the Internet in unprecedented ways. One of the things that we're doing is reinforcing the Administration's own inclination to promote broadband adoption and deployment.

PRWeek: With an issue like net neutrality, what are some of the challenges in communicating US Telecom's stance?

McCormick: One of the biggest challenges for our industry is the word ‘neutrality' itself. Everyone is for neutrality. If this is portrayed as an issue of freedom and openness and non-discrimination, these are terms that no one can dispute. Our challenge is to make clear where we stand. We support an open Internet. None of our companies want to change that in any way. The net neutrality debate is about the extent to which government management should be substituted for private-sector management when it comes to the design, the building, and the operation of networks.

PRWeek: How do social media channels help tell the US Telecom story?

McCormick: We are aggressively involved with online advocacy. We have a very novel way of communicating issues on our Web site with live v-casts and podcasts. We have a companion site called NextGenWeb.org, which is really a forum on all things broadband. We have a constant 24/7 presence on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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