The surest way out of an economic crisis is to invest -- that was the unanimous view of the dignitaries speaking at the opening ceremony of the Cebit trade show in Hanover, Germany, Monday night.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said for German IT companies, "Investment in this Cebit is the right investment," she said.
Her government wants to develop broadband Internet access and has set some ambitious targets: that Internet access at 1M bps (bits per second) should be available to everyone in Germany next year, and by 2015 connections at 50M bps should be available to 75 percent of the population.
The government won't be footing the bill for building those connections. "Broadband links are created by private enterprises, but it's up to the state to stimulate that," Merkel said.
Businesses may soon be able to play their part. After years of battling with German regulatory authorities over opening its VDSL (Very high-speed Digital Subscriber Line) access network to competitors, Deutsche Telekom announced at Cebit on Monday that it will sell the service wholesale to other telecommunications operators in a bid to raise the funds necessary to complete its network rollout.
Former Mr. Universe and now Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger was another key-note speaker.
The companies exhibiting at Cebit to find new business, rather than complaining about the state of the economy, are winners, not whiners, he said.
Schwarzenegger echoed previous speakers' praise for California's economic drive and entrepreneurial culture.
"California is not just another state, we're more like a nation state. We are the eighth-largest economy and the innovation capital of the world," he said.
"We need to invest in 21st-century knowledge skills and in innovation," said Intel Chairman Craig Barrett, another of the speakers.
Focussing on education, Barrett said, "The most important part of education is good teachers. But giving good teachers the right IT tools can make education exceptional."