Telecom policy: Another way Georgia risks falling behind

When I moved to Montgomery in mid-2002, I visited an Alabama state agency’s Web site in search of some tax information — information that was readily accessible on the comparable Georgia agency’s site. Not finding it, I phoned the department to ask whether it was in fact available online.

The woman who’d answered my call paused a couple of beats, and then replied, “We do have the Internet.”

Ha ha, another Alabama joke. Well, now the joke’s on us: Alabama and our other neighbors may be out-positioning Georgia to reap a windfall of telecommunications investment.

That windfall will come in a few ways, according to tech guru George Gilder, whose 2000 book “Telecosm” foresaw the past decade’s communications technology revolution, and who was in Atlanta Thursday to talk about tech’s future.

First, a brief history refresher. Think back to 2000, and the technology in your home at the time. You may have had a cellphone, but it wasn’t able to transmit e-mails, photographs or live streaming video. You may have had an Internet connection, but it most likely was dial-up, unfathomably slow by today’s standards.

These changes and others since 2000 arose despite a freshly burst tech bubble that could have “set back the industry catastrophically,” Gilder said. It didn’t, he said, in large part because the federal government exempted broadband from regulations that hampered older technologies.

The result was a flood of investment in broadband, Gilder said, a multibillion-dollar “miracle” that helped Americans adopt this high-speed Internet service faster than any technology before or since. In 2000, just 2 percent of Americans had broadband access. Today, that number is 60 percent.

The future may bring even more staggering innovations: 3-D holograms as staples of teleconferences, and online learning tools that revolutionize education (and slash the amounts of money we devote to it). Plus all of the entertainment and social-media possibilities.

To get there, Gilder and a co-author estimated, the U.S. Internet in 2015 will have to 50 times bigger than it was in 2006. Such an expansion, they wrote, will require $100 billion in investment nationwide, creating millions of new jobs.

Here we get back to my Alabama joke. Georgia should be poised to claim a piece of that $100 billion. As important, Gilder said, Georgia should aim to realize efficiencies from new communications technology that would save consumers and small businesses $3.3 billion over five years. Increase broadband use, and we’d create $3.9 billion and 70,000 new jobs.

But whereas Georgia once was a national leader in telecom deregulation, yielding our state great benefits, we’re fast becoming a laggard even in the Southeast. Outdated price controls, indirect subsidies for rural carriers and other regulatory burdens threaten our ability to seize these opportunities.

Meanwhile, Alabama and others are freeing phone service providers from oversight and rules designed for an era of copper-wire monopolists.

With persistent problems in education, transportation and water, and a big hole in the budget, legislators have a convenient excuse for not addressing telecom policy (even if it would be a pro-market feather in the cap for a Republican majority in dire need of some positive news).

But one thing’s clear: Given all of our other problems, we don’t need another reason for businesses not to invest here.

40 comments Add your comment

Mr T

January 8th, 2010
8:09 pm

Thats what happens when you elect a Goober for a Governer that campaigns on keeping the stars and bars on the state flag as his only running point! Idiots. We might as well bring back Barnes. At least he had a brain and didn’t look like the Yellow Wood commercial guy! LOL!

Chris Broe

January 8th, 2010
9:28 pm

Oh, so what.

Democrats are Corrupt, Repukes are Lying Scum

January 8th, 2010
9:38 pm

The internet, WIFI, and pell phones are the modern equivalent of the Roman circus for the masses. Americans are heavily entertained, but poorly educated, just the way our masters want it. Free yourself, read a history book written by a real historian, not some idiot high school teacher.

Michael H. Smith

January 9th, 2010
3:23 am

Having fun with Kyle “The Impetuous” – I don’t care what you do. Just do something! – Wingfield, accordingly…

With persistent problems in education, transportation and water, and a big hole in the budget, legislators have a convenient excuse for not addressing telecom policy (even if it would be a pro-market feather in the cap for a Republican majority in dire need of some positive news).

But one thing’s clear: Given all of our other problems, we don’t need another reason for businesses not to invest here.

For some in dire need of seeking out a bit of positive news it appears a rearranging of prospective would go a long way in the general direction of ending this self-loathing pessimism, oh impetuous ones.

Hey, Kyle, snap out of it!

If you want something positive to happen stop thinking negative stop talking negative stop writing negative and realize that in everything you perceive the persistence of problems there is in reality the constant of opportunity.

And, that my conservative friend, is more than reason enough for business to invest here. More than motivation enough to move a Republican majority likened unto those Baptist trees planted by the water which shall not be moved.

Of course, admittedly Kyle, one does begin to pessimistically wonder at times exactly what these Republicans fear: Success, after a hundred years of Democrat failures in this state?

Just saying

Rightwing Troll

January 9th, 2010
6:19 am

Well if those Republicans fear success, why won’t they reach for it??? Instead they ask each other for reach-arounds.

Wooty has his finger on the pulse, he knows the only way out of any of our problems is to hew to the Reagan myth and pave pave pave… he knows we don’t need to invest no money in no stinkin’ internets…


January 9th, 2010
7:39 am

Kyle, how ridiculous! Why do we need MORE technology in the first place? Who cares if Alabama ranks ahead of us? Why this obsession with ranking first? I would be so glad to pack away all the digital gadgets and return to a simpler life. Don’t want such investments in Georgia!


January 9th, 2010
7:42 am

Heaven forbid–we don’t need MORE technology! Let’s pack up all this digital stuff that clutters our lives and makes us live on fastforward–and send it to the moon! Investment firms need not come to Georgia!

Chris Broe

January 9th, 2010
7:43 am

Kyle Wingnut is saying, “We’re gonna need a bigger broadband”

What’s he afraid of? That he wont be able to play donkey kong on his copier/fax/mpg player? Just how many pega-mixels does this I-clod need, anyway?

Maybe if he’d waste less time over donkeys and king kongs and suchthats and spend more time caring about that poor horse that got punctured with arrows by that Hitler-youth (young republican), then maybe he’d write something worth more than an Ambien overdose.

Kyle knows all about smart phones and smart bombs. Too bad his mommy didn’t buy him a smart pen. Bwa.


professional skeptic

January 9th, 2010
8:07 am

Kyle, great topic, but you’re off point. If you can’t demonstrate how an idea will directly benefit Georgia’s roadbuilder overlords with their puppet conservatives in the GA legislature, then you don’t have a snowman’s chance in hell of ever seeing it come to fruition in this joke of a state.

Moreover, you’ll have to do a lot better than to threaten, “If Georgia doesn’t do such-and-such, then we’ll fall behind.” It is my conclusion after living in this state for over ten years that “falling behind” is a point of pride to Georgia conservatives. The definition of conservatism is to keep things just like they are– while your neighboring states and nations innovate all around you.

Whether it be education, transportation, technological advancement or business retention, Georgia can fall behind until we’re at the bottom of the nation by every standard of measure– It don’t matter as long as we stay red to the core and scratch up just enough money to fund highways to nowhere and tunnels under Atlanta.

Pave, baby, pave!!

Michael H. Smith

January 9th, 2010
9:08 am

Okay, given the perception Georgia’s education system stinks, most see this as a problem. If they were in the business of education why do they not see this as the goldmine of opportunity it represents? Where else in this capitalist society or what remains of it, could the demand be any higher?

So Georgia’s transportation sucks, most call it a disaster, some simply call it a disgrace. To someone in the business of moving goods and people from one point to another why do they not see this as the goldmine of opportunity it represents?

From time to time water becomes a scarce commodity in Georgia, droughts are no anomaly. In fact, they should be considered as bankable as legal tender for anyone or any business engaged in the water industry and/or the suppliers to that industry which makes all the necessaries it takes to produce fresh drinking water.

Oh my goodness. Silly me, I overlooked one important item. Beat me with elephant tusks Kyle – That’s right, the GOVERNMENT has near absolute control over education, transportation and water.

That old Reagan and his smack talk of GOVERNMENT being the problem not the answer.


January 9th, 2010
9:52 am

I’m reading Wingfield’s screed and thinking about a time more than 50 years ago when most Georgians were decrying the emergence of Elvis and the evils of rock ‘n roll. That’s the kind of attitude prevailing in Georgia and most of the South about anything, and especially the future. It’s rather pointless to mourn the state’s neglect of modern technological opportunity when the state wants to live in the late Nineteenth Century or the early Twentieth. What’s the matter, Kyle? Did the Tooth Fairy bypass you?

Road Scholar

January 9th, 2010
10:00 am

“With persistent problems in education, transportation and water, and a big hole in the budget, legislators have a convenient excuse for not addressing telecom policy”

The Ga Legislature has used “a convenient excuse” for addressing education, transpotation, and water….They have their ideas, but can’t govern worth a plate of beans!

“Meanwhile, Alabama and others are freeing phone service providers from oversight and rules …” Yeah, that’s what we need less oversight! You always seem to trust business to do the right thing. Does AIG ring a bell?

Can't wait til 2012

January 9th, 2010
10:04 am

Does every one know how stupid Cynthia Tucker is , why does the AJC continue to let her print her venom ?

Road Scholar

January 9th, 2010
10:21 am

If only the AJC knew how stupid some of these bloggers are, they wouldn’t allow them to access the blog. Oh yeah, the constitution allows people to make their own decisions and provides rights of expression. Damn, that constitution keeps getting in the way! Oh yeah, everything should be based on our Constitution!

Liberal Idiocrat

January 9th, 2010
10:42 am

Speaking of regulations, guess what happens next month boys and girls? The feel good Idiocrat legislation known as “The Credit Card Accountability And Disclosure Act” goes into effect. So for a lot of you mindless mouth breathing liberals who hate corporate America, get ready to have your account closed. And for you of them who are complete losers with low credit scores, get ready to have NO credit card. And for you normal successful Americans, get ready to pay fees out the a**.

So, now that global warming is happening around the globe, don’t we need to hurry up and pass that idiotic Cap & Trade legislation that will kill industry? I mean come on man, if the liberal Idiocrats are going to destroy America’s core (yeah, that means big evil PROFIT MAKING BUSINESS, not government) then finish it off already and force us all to live in equal housing like good little Eastern Bloc communist lemmings. That’s what the idiotic modern left really wants in this nation – no rich, no poor, everyone equal, and the government “taking care” of us from cradle to grave.

Speaking of mindless lemmings, I wonder how those who voted for “change” feel about terrorism lately? Yeah, you remember those moonbatic liberals who said Bush’s war on terror was phony and radical Islamic terrorism was a figment of Bush/Cheney’s boogeyman imagination for oil. Yep. Has anyone noticed that we aren’t bombarded daily by the DNC main stream media about Iraq war deaths like we were during Bush? Or the whines that Afghanistan is the “real” war? Tsk, tsk, tsk. Where did all the whiners go?

Oh my bad, we have a new president now! Everything that was “bad” during the Bush years, from the Iraq war to unemployment to alleged shut door policies is now perfectly okay under Obowma. I mean come on. We have the greatest president in the history of the US! He first called a failed airliner bombing over Michigan an “isolated incident” DAYS after it happened (and liberal Idiocrats said Bush was slow to respond in front of a bunch of children when 9/11 happened); then he said the “system failed” and then he said he will fight terrorism. Ooookay. And this doesn’t even bring up that genius in charge of Homeland Security who said the “system worked.” The only reason that bombing failed was because the idiot doing it failed. By the way, how many of the DNC main stream media outlets even hinted at making a connection with radical Islam and a bombing on Christmas day? Uh huh.

So anyway, speaking of failures, Sen. Nelson appears to be having buyers remorse over the crucial 60th vote:

“I would have preferred not to be dealing with health care in the midst of everything else, and I think working on the economy would have been a wiser move.”

Ouch. Well it sucks for us 84% with a current health care plan, that’s for sure. No word from Lowsiana’s Sen. Landrieu’s buyer’s remorse. Remember she actually corrected the amount of millions a reporter asked her about.

Oh the fun we can have with the mindless liberal Idiocrats running this nation……

Liberal Idiocrat

January 9th, 2010
11:18 am

“I’m reading Wingfield’s screed and thinking about a time more than 50 years ago when most Georgians were decrying the emergence of Elvis and the evils of rock ‘n roll. That’s the kind of attitude prevailing in Georgia and most of the South about anything, and especially the future.”

Yeah, there’s your typical mindless mouth breathing liberal Idiocrat mentality right there. They’re always bringing up the ’50s Normal Rockwellian America and how easy people got offended. Keep that comment in mind the next time you see one of those pinheads whining about any negative comments over The Teleprompter In Chief’s policy and then cry racism; keep that in mind the next time you see one of the left wing droolers telling us the next greatest euphemism so as not to OFFEND anyone; keep that in mind the next time you read or hear of a story about how grade school children aren’t allowed to celebrate Christmas because it might OFFEND someone; keep that in mind the next time you read or hear of a story about how children no longer have field days because there’s a winner and others who do not win are OFFENDED, or worse, have their SELF ESTEEM taken from them.

Yeah, liberalism makes a whole hell of a lot of sense too.

Liberal Idiocrat

January 9th, 2010
11:23 am

“That’s the kind of attitude prevailing in Georgia and most of the South about anything, and especially the future.”

And anther thing, “disgusted”: let me know when you see foreign car manufacturers flocking to the Northeast and North Midwest like they are to the South. Future indeed, moron.

Democrats are Corrupt, Repukes are Lying Scum

January 9th, 2010
12:20 pm

Kyle is hung up on broad ban because it is the last great hope of newspapers, the dying dinosaurs of the day. To cut costs, newspapers hope to become solely electronic, thus eliminating printing costs, delivery costs, and wastage of unsold papers. The papers just need more ereaders in the hands of the masses, then the money will roll in. Of course, the greedy pigs hope to keep on charging the same subscription rates. Ain’t a gonna happen. The world is full of ereaders now, they are call PC’s, and I can read just about any newspaper on earth on this one, almost all for free. Why would I pay for an ereader and for a newspaper subscription that I now get for free? If the paper charges, I just switch to one that does not charge. So easy.

Hillbilly Deluxe

January 9th, 2010
12:50 pm

Mr. T

The current state flag is the one based on the Stars and Bars; the previous one was the St. Andrew’s Cross.


Delta’s ready when you are.

K. Plummer

January 9th, 2010
2:22 pm

What Gilder didn’t mention is that in Alabama their phone rates have gone up twice since they deregulated. And failed to mention that AT&T drop rates in areas where they have competition and raise rates in markets where they don’t have competition to offset those decreases. So Kyle, let’s be fair and balanced when we talk about this.

Mr T

January 9th, 2010
7:20 pm

Enter your comments here

Green Fudge

January 10th, 2010
8:47 am

Anybody remember the debacle of deregulation of natural gas in Georgia? Prices went up instead of down and we got an extra layer of administration between the customer and provider. This is from a devout free market kind of guy. The state of Georgia has great goals but poor execution.

Michael H. Smith

January 10th, 2010
9:05 am

In the mix of speaking fair and balanced let us not forget that AT&T a.k.a. “MA BELL” is the very product of GOVERNMENT anti-competitiveness intervention into the so-called “free market”.

What seems to be missing is “balance”. Liberal DEMwits would love to frame this argument over deregulation into meaning no regulation or oversight whatsoever, as was served in the case of AIG. Keep in mind the force that brought about AIG during the Clinton administration i.e. Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin (then Secretary of the Treasury) and Larry Summers. Larry Summers, now Obumer’s financial adviser, along with Tim Geithner are both Robert Rubin proteges’.

No conservative I would identify with could support the Libertarian laissez-faire approach to capitalism and completely dismiss the role of government as the protector of “market integrity” – i.e. ethically, morally and legally.

Government should neither chose the winners or losers or foster anti-competitiveness nor be the source of predatory activities within our capitalist marketplace (notwithstanding matters of national security which should preclude certain competitors).

Deregulation should seek to provide the utmost in competition, regulation should seek to keep this provision truly above board and open to all comers, protecting and enhancing the individual liberty and prosperity of every citizen.

A little something, a snippet from the GDP, to cheer up our host:

Sen. Don Balfour said after the event that those requests aren’t likely going to be fulfilled.

“There’s a lot of great programs and a lot of great needs, but we don’t have more money, we have less money,” the Republican from Snellville said. “We’re going to have to cut good programs.”

Balfour, a leader in the Senate as the head of the Rules Committee, said he did not foresee movement on raising the tax burden on people already struggling in the faltering economy, which likely will mean the long-awaited revenues for transportation and trauma care may not surface in 2010.

But Rep. Donna Sheldon, head of the Republican Caucus in the House, was more optimistic.

“I think we’ll get transportation addressed,” she said. “Job growth and economic development are key and transportation is part of that.”

Flexibility for schools and water initiatives are also likely to move forward she said, and Rep. Brooks Coleman, the chairman of the House Education Committee, said he arrived late to Thursday’s event because he dropped bills to provide that flexibility.

Obviously Rep. Sheldon took fear out of her vocabulary. Jobs baby, jobs!

Kyle's A Cherry Picker

January 10th, 2010
9:48 am

Hi Kyle,
Speaking of distractions holding the Georgia Legislature back from doing serious work like telecom deregulation, gun control is tops. I mean, they have GOT TO figure how how to get more guns out into the community…into schools, churches, bars, etc. Until this problem is solved, everything else will just have to take a back seat.
Happy New Year!

Democrats are Corrupt, Repukes are Lying Scum

January 10th, 2010
10:48 am

Honest Injun Kyle?


January 10th, 2010
11:05 am

Don’t worry, I’m sure Sonny can pray us a bigger internet. Problem solved.


January 10th, 2010
11:11 am

Excellent points. But I do not think that “telecom policy” and “Georgia legislature” can occur in the same sentence.


January 10th, 2010
11:38 am

Aquagirl (Jan 9 – 11:05 am) and Green Fudge (Jan 9 – 8:47 am):

Great posts. Fudge’s characterization of “great goals and poor
execution” is absoltutely the words to describe the state of Georgia’s
efforts to build a tech infrastructure over the past 15 years, despite
having one of the country’s top tech universities in downtown Atlanta.

The reaction to a column like this by state conservatives is a
foregone conclusion, and has nothing to do with Kyle. I found
Democrats/Repukes’s post at 9:38 pm on Jan. 8 and C.Broe’s post
at 7:43 am on the 9th to be creative, but typical of the layman’s
mindset in the deep South. It has to do with “technology” being
something that is either “Northern”, “Left Coast” or “foreign”, and
not something that they or their posterity will face when they
go to the workplace. The jobs will go to the informed, not the
I can guarantee you that the “Southern car manufacturers” that
Liberal Idiocrat reveres for building new plants in the South (at 11:23
am Jan 9) won’t have a problem of implementing new tech, green or
not, if it (1) makes them a profit, and (2) makes them more
competitive. Foreign manufacturers still have to compete in a global

Stan Kelley

January 10th, 2010
12:42 pm

Is it a coincidence that the 2002 election was when the Republicans took control of almost everything in this state and that 2004 was the year they consolidated their gains?

Stan Kelley

January 10th, 2010
12:45 pm

Dewstarpath, were you in Avatar? Do you speak the language of England or the language of the NA’Vi.

Stan Kelley

January 10th, 2010
12:49 pm

MIKE!!! Do you speak English? Can you spell? The state does not have the money. Maybe the President and Congress will lend it to us. We can always hope.

Democrats are Corrupt, Repukes are Lying Scum

January 10th, 2010
2:48 pm

As an American Indian, I demand Mr. Steel resign as the head of the GOP for using the “Injun” word.

Michael H. Smith

January 10th, 2010
8:11 pm

Just wondering if STAN!!! has anything intelligent to say? Somewhere in the English language words and terms like investor, investment, bonds, joint-venture, etc. do exist.

Michael H. Smith

January 10th, 2010
8:17 pm

I’m laughing at the Democrats stumbling all over their own double standards. If not for the Democrats double standards would they have any standards at all?

Smiles For Miles

Michael H. Smith

January 11th, 2010
4:33 am

A small little something for those who do not comprehend how capitalism works or at least should work and the role a government with no money should play in underwriting the success of its’ citizenry, including its’ own financial success as well.

How Georgia Can Fuel Job Creation with Early-Stage Capital
by Mike Eckert

“Thus far, 22 states have developed tax credit programs for angel investors and, as a direct result, have marked significant measures of economic success.”

Jim K.

January 11th, 2010
6:57 am

“The woman who’d answered…” Huh? “The woman who had(?) answered…”, I presume? How about: “The woman who answered…”

Chris Broe

January 11th, 2010
7:05 am

I can name that moron in five comments.


January 11th, 2010
9:08 am

Stan Kelley – Jan. 10 – 12:45 pm

“Avatar” is not my cup of tea. It’s a remake of 1983’s
“Return of the Jedi”. No fanboy here. Been there, done that.

Based upon your answer to my post (which has nothing to do
with AVATAR), you must be sitting around in your Star Wars
Underoos trying to read what grown folks discuss.


January 11th, 2010
9:13 am

Michael H. Smith –

Great link. Lack of investment in small high-tech startups
in Georgia compared to other states in the southeast is
definitely a problem worth mentioning.

Intown Lib

January 11th, 2010
10:47 am

I think we can all agree that Georgia’s economic development outlook is far worse than it was at the beginning of the Perdue administration. Since the Republican party will likely be in power in Georgia for generations, it is incumbent upon them to develop mature leaders with vision who can govern this State in a way that will lead to long term success. I have yet to see the Georgia Republican party develop many of those types of leaders. None are at the very top of the party. Georgia Republicans need more Sam Olens and fewer Nathan Deals, Karen Handels, Sonny Perdues, and John Oxendines.