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An Internet that spurs not strangles innovation

The world we live in today is one where people, process, data and – increasingly – things are connected as never before. The Internet of EveryThing (IoE), is driving the most dynamic area of innovation, creating new business models, economic, social and environmental sustainability and also has fantastic potential to improve our quality of life.

Just imagine: a blind man gaining independence because his once ordinary walking stick is able to communicate with his other senses through sensors, vibrations and GPS technology that guide him through the city maze. Imagine a connected car informed of traffic jams by analyzing traffic patterns and adjusting traffic light operations. Or think of smart manufacturing facilities that cut costs by reducing waste and energy consumption. And these are just the possibilities being realised today. Imagine what the future will look like in 5, 10 or 25 years from now.

We have barely begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible. We don’t know what applications and services will shape the Internet’s future. To continue innovating, we need the Internet to remain open, giving the most creative among us the chance to experiment with daring new ideas.

We also must be sure not to stifle the very innovation that we seek to encourage. If we do so, it could inhibit growth and new ideas alike. This is why today we should focus on putting in place the right policy principles that will further develop this new Internet of Everything.

In policy debates, net neutrality is often understood to mean that all bits should be treated equally, regardless of whether it’s a text, email, picture or video. While at first sight this may sound reasonable, the truth is that such a strict net neutrality principle would become an innovation straight-jacket. It would require us to re-design the Internet as we know it, doing away with tools that have become essential to its success.

Different Internet services have different requirements. It doesn’t really matter if an email arrives now or a second or two later. But if you’re dealing with real-time applications – such as video communication, or buying stocks or monitoring vital signs, delays can have an incredible impact on user experience and effectiveness.

So the truth is that you have to manage internet traffic to make sure that the data that has to get there immediately – does.   This short video explains what traffic management entails and why it is so important.

Reasonable traffic management is so deeply embedded in the Internet’s core structure that it could not operate smoothly without it. This is the case already with the traffic loads of today, let alone in the future. Because management and scheduling are a crucial part of the Internet, we are closely following European efforts to formulate new net neutrality legislation. Cisco believes such legislation has merit but it could also have sweeping implications for reasonable traffic management and new services that would ultimately stifle rather than encourage innovation on the Internet. These implications can and should be avoided.

Fortunately it seems there is an increasing realisation among some policy-makers that net neutrality legislation, necessary as it may be, shouldn’t eliminate reasonable traffic management altogether. That approach would undermine rather than improve the quality of users’ experience. One way to establish net neutrality rules that prevent bad behaviour while maintaining a role for traffic management is to pursue a two-thronged approach where a line is drawn between the types of bad behaviour we do not want to see in the Internet and the necessary and reasonable traffic management techniques that ensure the fast, reliable and scalable networks that we all rely on, and need as consumers.

Equally, there is an emerging consensus that we must avoid overly prescriptive attempts to cast into law lists enumerating or narrowly defining the types of services other than internet access services that we deem “deserving” of specific levels of quality. Such attempts are bound to get it wrong in many cases. Moreover, any such neutrality law would quickly be outpaced and overtaken by reality. Building a Procrustean bed for the Internet is not the way towards a more vibrant digital economy in Europe. It is not necessary to have these prescriptive definitions and conditions on innovation as long as we maintain strong and clear safeguards to ensure an open and reliable Internet.

As the debate on neutrality in Europe enters its final phase, with trialogue negotiations starting this week, we hope the European Parliament will take a fresh look at the issue and we achieve a balanced final outcome.

In essence, the legislation we need should be sturdy enough to hold things together, but flexible enough for Internet entrepreneurs to continue adding new applications and services.

Just think about what the Internet looked like 15 years ago: a handful of wires, noisy connections that would bump you off from time to time, and streaming would be as quick as a snail. We have made huge strides, and we can continue towards an Internet of Everything – a smarter, more productive and efficient way at approaching life. But to get there, striking the right balance in Europe’s regulatory framework is more crucial than ever before.

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Cisco Supports LEADS Act

The world’s economy is increasingly interconnected. Continued economic growth stems from companies being able to move data freely across borders without being caught between conflicting legal requirements.  Governments also face challenges in their efforts to protect public safety when data needed to conduct lawful investigations are stored in the cloud. Internet users, in turn, expect that their email will receive protections that are equivalent to those afforded paper documents. Therefore, the challenge we face is to develop a modern, efficient, transparent mechanism that protects reasonable expectations of user privacy when law enforcement demands access to the contents of electronic communications in the cloud.

Today, Representatives Tom Marino (R-PA) and Suzan DelBene (D-WA) introduced bipartisan legislation in the House to tackle this important problem.

Theirs is a companion to a bill introduced by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Chris Coons (D-DE) earlier this month.

On behalf of Cisco, I’d like to thank these members for their leadership and to express support for the goals of their legislation.

The Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad (LEADS) Act offers a new framework for striking the balance between the government’s need to investigate crime and the Constitution’s protections against unreasonable search and seizure in the context of a globally connected world.

This proposal builds upon bipartisan efforts to amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) in both the House and the Senate, which we also support.

Cisco urges Congress to take up these important issues quickly.

We continue to believe that the security threats facing nations are real and significant, and governments need to be able to take steps to address these threats and protect their citizens against crime and terrorism. At the same time, we must update our laws so that they respect innovation and enable new technologies to grow.

Cisco Statement on FCC Decision to Regulate the Internet

“When the FCC Chairman’s office originally unveiled open Internet rules last year, Cisco cheered the proposal, because we support an open Internet and believe that balanced rules that protect consumers and prevent anti-competitive behavior are necessary and appropriate.

Unfortunately, the rules adopted by the FCC today bear little resemblance to the original proposal. They impose far-reaching Title II regulation on Internet access and services. We believe this will inhibit investment in wired and wireless broadband and limit consumer choice in new and innovative services relating to telemedicine, distance learning, and the Internet of Everything.

Over the coming days and weeks, we will study the new rules to see how they impact broadband investment. But we view the decision to impose heavy-handed regulation, rather than a balanced approach, as a missed opportunity.

Ultimately, this issue will be decided by the Courts and Congress, which will have the final say on the matter.”

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Statement of Mark Chandler on the IEEE Decision on Patent Clarifications

“Today’s decision by the IEEE Board of Directors is a significant victory for consumers and for those who want a reasonable and stable patent system that supports innovation.

In making this decision, the IEEE supported those companies who are willing to both grant and receive licenses for patents required for use in IEEE standards on reasonable terms.  We congratulate the IEEE for resisting pressure from the few who wanted to use the patent system to force unreasonable costs on makers and users of everyday products like smartphones and wireless routers.

Today’s decision will help ensure that owners of patents required to implement standards won’t be able to use their leverage to obtain unreasonable royalties.

Cisco will work with the IEEE and other stakeholders to ensure that the new clarifications are implemented in a fair and equitable manner.”

Statement of Mary Brown on new FCC Rules on 911

The FCC today unanimously adopted new rules that will require improved location data to be delivered to 911 call centers from wireless phones.

This decision is an important step forward in generating a dispatchable address from wireless phones located indoors, helping ensure that first responders can reach victims as quickly as possible. When fully implemented, technologies like these will help save lives. But there is considerable work to be done, and Cisco will work with first responders, service providers, the FCC and enterprises to help reach this goal.

There are many technologies that have a role to play when a consumer dials 911 from his or her mobile phone, and chief among those technologies is Wi-Fi.  In fact, because Wi-Fi Access Points are associated with a civic, dispatchable address, Wi-Fi generated location data from residential locations will play an important role in achieving the goals established by the FCC for locating 911 wireless callers.

Various market sources indicate Wi-Fi penetration of US households is almost 60 percent. Households with fixed line broadband use Wi-Fi more heavily, with Wi-Fi penetration at 80 percent.  Consistent with historical growth in the market, Cisco expects Wi-Fi household penetration to continue to increase, and believes Wi-Fi can be an important tool toward finding callers.

Enterprises can help, too, because emergencies also happen at work.  A recent Cisco survey of enterprises with more than 100 employees shows that 80 percent of companies either have Wi-Fi everywhere or in designated areas.

Technology is available today to connect enterprise Wi-Fi location data to first responders, and Cisco will enthusiastically support industry and first responders in implementing the FCC’s decision.”

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