Magazine article The Small Business Advocate

Affordable Broadband: The Catalyst for Small Business Growth

Magazine article The Small Business Advocate

Affordable Broadband: The Catalyst for Small Business Growth

Article excerpt

On April 27, Acting Chief Counsel for Advocacy Susan Walthall testified before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship in a hearing titled "Connecting Main Street to the World: Federal Efforts to Expand Small Business Internet Access." The hearing focused on recent efforts to support small business and broadband and ways of continuing and enhancing such efforts in the future.

The panel of witnesses included Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, Administrator Larry Strickling from the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Administrator Jonathan Adelstein from the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service, and Associate Administrator for Investment Sean Greene of the Small Business Administration.

Walthall discussed the importance of small businesses to the economy and broadband's essential role in their continued competitiveness. She also focused on the challenges faced by small broadband providers and noted that Advocacy is conducting a study on broadband and small business.

Small businesses, which make up 99.7 percent of all U.S. employers, are a key driver of our economy, particularly in terms of job creation and innovation. The potential exists for even greater small business contributions to economic growth. "Broadband is a transformative technology," Walthall explained, "that allows small businesses throughout the U.S. to access customers throughout the world." She stressed the importance of affordable access to broadband to all small businesses, even in rural areas, so that these businesses can create greater efficiencies in their business practices and introduce their products to the global market.

Walthall stressed small broadband providers' critical role in the attainment of universal broadband. While small providers may serve fewer customers than the larger companies, their value is undeniable. …

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