“As part of this commitment to infrastructure, we need to upgrade our digital superhighway as well. When I looked at that map of the world mounted on the screen at Google, I was struck at first by the light generated by Internet searches coming from every corner of the earth,” Obama said.
“But then I was struck by the darkness. Huge chunks of Africa and parts of Asia where the light of the information revolution has yet to shine. And then I noticed portions of the United States where the thick cords of light dissolved into a few discrete strands. It is unacceptable that here, in the country that invented the Internet, we fell to 15th in the world in broadband deployment,” he continued.
Obama pointed out that lack of high speed Internet access hurts America’s global competitiveness, “When kids in downtown Flint or rural Iowa can’t afford or access high-speed Internet that sets back America’s ability to compete. As President, I will set a simple goal: every American should have the highest speed broadband access – no matter where you live, or how much money you have. We’ll connect schools, libraries and hospitals. And we’ll take on special interests to unleash the power of wireless spectrum for our safety and connectivity.”
On tech issues one of the biggest differences between the two candidates is net neutrality. Put it in its most simple terms, net neutrality is the principle that a broadband network should be neutral, and should not restrict content, sites, or platforms. Right now all content is available on the Internet on an equal basis, but the telecom companies would like to impose a tiered service model like they currently do with television stations. The result of this plan would be that not all content would be equally available.
McCain supports the telecom companies, saying last month, “When you control the pipe you should be able to get profit from your investment.” Obama supports net neutrality legislation, and judging from his remarks today, views the Internet not in terms of a profit making tool, but as an information network that is critical to America’s global competitiveness. While McCain is out to protect corporations, Obama wants to build a more globally competitive America. To me, this puts the choice between the two candidates in stark black and white terms.
Obama’s full speech can be found here.