Authored By Xavier Williams, AT&T Senior Vice President of Government, Education & Medical (GEM) Markets

I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to support an array of public sector clients over the past few years including federal agencies, state and local governments, colleges, and state and local school districts. From this vantage point I am very proud to see firsthand how AT&T is addressing two of our country’s most important national challenges: creating jobs and helping to connect every American to broadband-based Internet service.  That is the feeling I came away with after participating earlier today with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke in an economic forum sponsored by the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) and recently reviewing the FCC’s new National Broadband Plan.

When I couple these activities with the DLC study on the relationship between jobs and capital investment, it confirms for me that AT&T and the Information Communications Technology sector as a whole can deliver the investment and innovation to create new lines of business, new sources of jobs, and new ways to meet critical national challenges.   At AT&T, we heartily agree with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s assessment that universal broadband networks “can be America’s engine for enduring job creation, economic growth and tremendous improvements and savings in education, health care and energy conservation.”  AT&T also agrees with the DLC’s findings that creating jobs depends on business investment, and that broadband, wireless infrastructure, and information technology are great places to invest.

So, I am encouraged that over the past three years, AT&T has invested a total of $55 billion in our networks, and will invest up to $19 billion more this year.  That investment translates into jobs at AT&T across all of our lines of business.  The mix of employment is changing as our business evolves, but we remain a leading source of high-quality, tech jobs right here in America.   And, much of our investment is directed to the small businesses that typically lead in job creation.  During 2009, AT&T added $9.5 billion to the bottom line of small business, including a large number of minority-run enterprises and companies headed by women and service-disabled veterans.

We target these investment dollars to innovation, which delivers jobs by creating unexpected opportunities as one breakthrough leads to another.   For example, the introduction and proliferation of the iPhone gave birth to a dynamic mobile apps industry that no one anticipated.  This is yet another example of how the forces of technology, creativity and commerce yield innovations heretofore unimaginable and, perhaps, a bellwether of many other powerful innovations that we will see in our lifetimes. While, no one can predict where the next big idea will come from or where it will lead, we can be certain that continued investment by broadband service providers will make the next new idea possible.  That’s why policymakers need to create the conditions that encourage investment and innovation, and also to resist the temptation to intervene in our country’s Internet ecosystem in a way that could preclude tomorrow’s business models and the jobs they will create.

It’s hard to know the future with specificity, but based on my experience at AT&T clearly broadband and jobs go hand-in-hand. AT&T stands at the ready to work with this Administration to ensure America stays ahead of the broadband race, and provides 21st century jobs and economic opportunity for every American.

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