WASHINGTON, June 2, 2009 - Just 133 days into the Obama administration, technology policy and broadband deployment are issues "at the heart of this administration's plans for the future," Special Assistant to the President for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Susan Crawford said Tuesday during opening remarks at the Computers, Freedom, Privacy conference in Washington.
Broadband deployment remains a linchpin of the Obama agenda, particularly for the nation's short and long term economic health. The nation's broadband connections are "slow and expensive" compared to the rest of the world, Crawford said.
"We are not falling behind," she warned. "We are definitely behind."
High speed networks can bridge economic, racial and cultural divides, Crawford said. Even the homeless now need access to the internet, Crawford said, referencing a recent article in The New York Times.
"We're talking about...the human need to connect," she said.
More importantly, broadband will be key to the nation's economic recovery and future stability. "The president cares deeply about [broadband]," she said. "Without adequate high speed connections, we will miss opportunities."
The Federal Communications Commission's forthcoming national broadband strategy will be a key tool to help aid the recovery effort, even after the stimulus programs have ended, Crawford said.
"We have to focus on creating jobs after the stimulus," she said. Network neutrality will almost certainly be an important element of that plan to encourage economic prosperity, she suggested.
But no matter the specifics of the FCC plan, Crawford was emphatic about the importance of a coherent national strategy.
"[The plan] is not about national pride...but about economic competitiveness for the future."