FOSE Kicks Off, Stresses Need For IT Policy Change

FOSE got off to a bustling start at the Washington, D.C. Convention Center today, thanks to the nearly 20,000 attendees, 530 exhibitors and 416 speakers. The message touted at the get-go was the need for policy -- and VARs' potential influence in making it happen.

"It's not a given that the United States will remain No. 1 in IT," said Intel president and CEO Paul Otellini in his morning keynote, noting that 40 percent of Internet growth is happening in Asia.

While technology deployment is increasingly mandated in other countries of the world -- through such initiatives as Digital Britain, and Taiwan's plan to make mobile communications ubiquitous by 2008 -- the United States has no such mandates. Furthermore, Otellini said, roadblocks stifle advancement. Philadelphia's endeavor to become the first WiFi city in the country was squashed by Pennsylvania legislation -- the fifteenth state to bar or restrict municipalities from providing telecom services; and regulations on spectrum by government create barriers for such advanced technologies as WiMax, a standards-based wireless technology that provides high-speed broadband connections over long distances.

"Other countries are moving more systematically than the U.S.," Otellini said, the result being a drop in overall IT standing from No. 1 in 2003 to No. 5 in 2005. Among the influencers that can turn that trend around, he says, is policy.

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"People at this show don't make the policy, but you as the IT professionals have the responsibility to shape policy moving forward," he said. "We need to ask ourselves, 'Do we want to lead?' I say yes -- we want to lead."