US VP on the Super Highway....

American Vice President Al Gore, widely credited with kindling a fair amount of the current media awareness of the Internet, has delivered a major address to the Telecommunications Summit, restating the US government’s methodology for promoting liberty and enterprise on the Information SuperHighway.

Gore stated that "We seek open and free competition in which any company is free to offer any information good or service to any customer".

Competition, Gore opined, is the most vital prerequisite for American leadership in the coming information marketplace. "Competition lowers prices, increases choices, improves quality and creates jobs. Competition is the key. Competition in the information marketplace will provide Americans lower prices for their telephone, cable and information goods and services and give them more and better choices in the information and programming available to them. Greater competition will unleash consumer demand for the new information services and products that will educate, entertain and empower our people. And that will lead to new, higher-paying jobs and an economy better prepared for the challenges of the 21st century."

Five fundamental principles were the heart of Gore’s position. These were accepted by the International Telecommunications Union in Buenos Aires last March and restated again at both the Asian Pacific Economic Conference and Hemispheric Summits and will be under discussion at the G-7 Ministerial Conference on the Information Society in Brussels in late February.

The principles are competition, universal service, private investment, open access, and flexible governmental action. Gore and the Clinton administration appear to be set on a course of monopoly -bashing that while initially directed at levelling the playing field for telephone service providers may in fact bring Microsoft’s competitive behaviour under review again (see related story on Microsoft and the Internet)

While the deficit-plagued Clinton administration is ill-positioned to provide government funds to further infrastructure on the Information Superhighway, their enabling rather than interfering stance, if implemented effectively, is better than the attitude of benign indifference exhibited by HM Government.

The full text of Gore’s speech will be available on our online service at