things that they are going to do. Why should they reinvent the wheel? There are people already spending millions of dollars doing that. Let's piggyback on their lesson.
But not all the lessons will fit concisely. What they learn in Pennsylvania may not fit for New York; what they learn in New York may not fit for Montana, but some of the things will be common problems and there will be common solutions. We can save people money and time by making all kinds of connections and being the conduit for that kind of interaction between the states, cities and localities.
GT: How does this fit in with the Commerce Department's mission?
Irving: The Commerce Department's mission is to serve as a resource, to serve as a center of economic development and to serve as a way of promoting our nation into the 21st century. This is wholly consistent with it. This nation can only survive if we stay on the cutting edge of technological trends.
Let me tell you one thing that I've told people time and time again. There will be 760 million people living in Africa in the year 2000. There are two telephone lines per 100 people in Africa. There are five telephone lines per 100 people in India and China. If we can find cost-effective ways to bridge the telecommunications gap in this country, we can find cost-effective ways of getting telephony into parts of those countries.
What we learn here, we can export to Africa, China and India. Half the people alive on this planet today have never used the telephone. We can do good by the people in the rest of the world. We can do well by U.S. companies by getting the technologies and understanding them and learning lessons here.
Building a national infrastructure is really the first step in making it work and learning a lesson is part of the process of making a global infrastructure.
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