While California’s economy continues to struggle, there are positive signs of life beginning to emerge.
The jobless rate is starting to dip. Our state is adding jobs faster than the national average. In fact, more than 300,000 jobs have been added within the past year with the most rapid growth occurring in advanced technology and “knowledge-based” companies.
As traditional manufacturing continues to fade away, I am pleased to note that the state’s cable industry is laying the infrastructure for the jobs of the future. The industry brings extraordinary innovation and a steady hand as we play a critical role in the Golden State’s ultimate recovery.
Combined, our industry employs 65,100 state residents who are directly or indirectly employed by cable companies, video operators, programmers and suppliers, that love living and working in California and are committed to our future. Together, we have pumped $24.2 billion in fiber and cable upgrades in infrastructure since 1996.
We are building an information superhighway second to none and available to everyone. A staggering 98 percent of all Californians now have access to high speed Internet.
While some cable jobs may ebb and flow, we are bullish on California. Cable will continue to make massive investments in the state, hire more workers, reach out to school kids who need and deserve an introduction to our computer age. We will continue to generate more than $800 million in annual taxes and fees. Cable is playing a critical role in shaping the business and social landscape of our state. Here are just a few recent examples:Comcast and other cable operators are bridging the digital divide by offering $10-a-month Internet service and equipment vouchers for poor Californians.
Time-Warner Cable (TWC) is pumping $15 million into a new Wi-Fi network in the Los Angeles area – it will be free to all customers over 40-square miles that include Downtown LA, Venice Beach, West Hollywood, Santa Ana, Newport Beach and other Orange County cities.
TWC is building two new sports networks in Los Angeles that will create more than 200 jobs and entail a $30 million building a network studio in El Segundo.
Comcast has activated several thousand public Wi-Fi hotspots so its customers can access the Internet free of charge.
CableLabs is bringing jobs and opening a new San Francisco Bay Area office, which will serve as an innovative hub for developing cable technology.
The good news is that the future growth of cable extends beyond the industry itself. An accessible, affordable and state-of-the-art infrastructure supports an environment that allows businesses of all kinds to flourish. We provide the platform small businesses and individuals use to thrive in the knowledge economy. Cable’s innovation offers the flexibility for employees to work from home. Writers, software engineers, designers and hundreds of other professionals will continue to excel in ways that were unimaginable a few short years ago.
A fast and reliable broadband network is spawning new technology and entrepreneurial breakthroughs that will generate the jobs of tomorrow.
All of this means that cable will continue to invest in innovation and the future of this great state. We remain one of the few bright spots in the California economy, and are serving as a catalyst for a larger state economic rebound.
Carolyn McIntyre is president of the California Cable & Telecommunications Association.