Last updated: November 5, 2008 - 10:51pm
Barack Obama's presidency could spell major changes for the technology industry after years of limited White House attention. The Obama camp has many tech-savvy advisers who understand the sector and its users. That was reflected in the Obama campaign's innovative use of technology and the Internet to organize volunteers, raise money and communicate with voters. Paul Gallant, a telecom analyst at Stanford Washington Research Group, believes Obama could take on at least one big priority for the industry: extending the concept behind network neutrality principles — which prohibit broadband providers from favoring or discriminating against online traffic traveling over their networks — into the wireless arena. Gallant believes Obama would also be more likely to tap the federal Universal Service Fund, which subsidizes telephone service in rural and low-income communities, to bring broadband to underserved parts of the country. Universal broadband is also top priority for technology companies. Yet tech companies have reason to be cautious, too. For one thing, said Christopher Hansen, president and chief executive of the American Electronics Association, Obama has not directly addressed another item high on the industry's wish list: raising the cap on H-1B visas to allow technology companies to bring in more highly skilled workers from overseas. In addition, Hansen added, the industry is worried about what policies Obama might implement to discourage the offshoring of operations and jobs. Obama does, however, support lifelong retraining programs for U.S. citizens, which could be good news for the tech sector, he noted.
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