President calls on industry to expand broadband

'Companies have both an obligation and opportunity to serve our country,' President Bush said yesterday in urging high-tech executives to expand broadband access and improve communications networks that serve public-sector users as well as consumers.

The technology executives told the president they could extend CEOLINK, a network built by leading IT companies to communicate among themselves.

'The intent is to have that spread,' said John Thompson, chief executive officer of Symantec Corp. of Cupertino, Calif.

The forum included CEOs from eight technology companies, including AOL Time Warner, AT&T Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Intel Corp., plus four cabinet members and homeland security director Tom Ridge. The participants discussed how they could help the federal government secure networks, upgrade federal IT overall and raise the number of technology experts within agencies.

'People in corporate America can lend a hand,' the president said. He praised the industry for improving the accuracy of weapons used in the war against terrorism. 'Our target is a heck of a lot more accurate thanks to our high-tech industry,' Bush said, but he added that there is much more to do to improve intelligence gathering and sharing.

'All of this is going to require new technology,' he said.

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