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Internet drives economy of U.S., new report says

Leavitt, businessman urge less regulation and more competition

SHARE Internet drives economy of U.S., new report says

The technological revolution is changing all aspects of American life from medicine to entertainment to government.

"Even if you're not 'on the Net,' you're part of the Internet economy," Ivan Seidenberg, chairman of Verizon Communications told the National Governors' Association Sunday.

The company is the nation's eighth-largest employer as the result of a merger completed last week between Bell Atlantic and GTE.

A new report from the U.S. Department of Commerce says that, without a doubt, information technology is now the No. 1 driver of the American economy, he said.

But unless the United States creates more competition and less regulation, it might not be a world leader.

"Anything less puts America in jeopardy of being a runner-up in the most vibrant sector of the global economy, an unacceptable outcome for all of us," Seidenberg told governors from 38 states.

Gov. Mike Leavitt smiled after the speech. Seidenberg touched on five of the seven initiatives the governor spearheaded as a way for states to prosper in the new economy. And, Leavitt noted, there wasn't any coordination or prompting of Seidenberg on his part.

Those points included investing in people; building state-of-the-art infrastructure and streamlining regulations.

Leavitt, outgoing NGA chairman, referred to those seven strategies several times in the past three days. He even summarized the main points on two 4-inch by 8-inch laminated cards which he made sure every governor received.

Leavitt likened the new economy to a big gear. "When you move it, everything else begins to spin," he said.

Seidenberg told governors they must consider public policies that will have a positive impact on the flow of capital. He called on Congress to pass bills eliminating unneeded rules on data investments.

States also must govern on Internet time, Seidenberg said.

The Bell Atlantic-GTE merger took 23 months to complete and not because of unforeseen roadblocks, "Rather, it's because the process has far too many layers and is too cumbersome to keep up with changes in markets and technology," he said.

Leavitt noted that in Utah the Qwest-US WEST merger took 11 months to complete. That, he said, could be too long on cyber time.

"If it's going to take a year or two years, then the world will pass us by," he said.

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