• Randall Stephenson Event

Randall L. Stephenson

Chairman & CEO, AT&T | March 11, 2009
Stephenson addressed the need for corporate investment to revitalize the economy

Stephenson addressed the need for corporate investment to revitalize the economy and described ways in which AT&T is investing in technology, clean energy, health care and education to both bolster the economy and help resolve social challenges.

Event Excerpts

It’s an honor to come here, to our Nation’s Capital, and speak about the future of this young country—The American experiment. It has produced levels of prosperity like the world has never seen. It’s a prosperity driven by a fairly simple formula— the unleashed power of free markets combined with a commitment of equal opportunity for all its citizens. This experiment has had its ups and its downs. But that’s the beauty of the experiment— for every downturn, there has been an upturn. Free and open markets produce tremendous growth over time, but the growth comes in cycles. Always has, always will. Clearly, the economic problems we face today are complex, and I won’t pretend they will be resolved overnight. But despite all the pessimism, I’m confident that we’ll come through this cycle as we have all the others—smarter, more efficient, and poised for growth.

At AT&T, we don’t believe we should simply wait on the government to solve our problems. . . . It’s the individual tinkering in a garage and the leaders of companies big and small who make a difference. It’s someone with big dreams, new ideas, and the courage to take risks and invest. We need a lot more of that spirit right now from Corporate America, to invest in America’s future, to help get our economy back on track, and create sustainable growth, opportunity, and prosperity.

My number one job at AT&T is to ensure that our company grows over the long term. And the only way I know to do that is by investing—investing in areas that drive sustainable growth. For me, that means two things: Technology and people.

When and where people connect, commercial velocity accelerates and economies grow. The secret ingredient for unleashing the power of free markets is connecting people, whether it’s roads, railways, or airports. It’s been that way throughout history. But one thing has proven to increase commercial velocity more than anything else— communications networks. It started with fixed-line voice calls, then cellphones, then the Internet and broadband, and now mobile broadband devices like the iPhone are taking commercial velocity to a whole new level. Every time we’ve invested and built new communications networks and capabilities, commercial velocity has accelerated. And commercial velocity is how economies grow, how jobs are created— it is the core source of prosperity. That’s true around the world. Even in today’s economy, the underlying demand for connectivity is strong. Traffic on our network is growing about 50% a year—most of it video and data. Last summer, we finished building the most advanced Internet backbone in the world. Within 3 years, we expect traffic on it will have quadrupled. To stay ahead of the demand curve, we’re continuing to invest aggressively—$38 billion in the past 2 years, more than any other U.S. telecom or technology company.

Economists say that if U.S. companies were to substitute video conferencing for just 10% of business air travel, the U.S. could reduce carbon emissions by about 35 million tons annually.

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