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As Two Digital Divides Close, A New One Threatens

Five years ago when it was created, the UN Commission for Digital Development stated that “the digital divide continues to be a development divide that must quickly be bridged.” Since then, huge progress has been made in closing the digital divides in the adoption of information and communication technologies (ICTs), particularly telephones and the Internet. A new potential digital divide may be emerging, however, in the adoption of machine-to-machine (M2M) deployment and services, a key element in the Internet of Things and the Internet of Everything.

The latest data from the Broadband Commission’s 2015 State of Broadband report launched this week, shows the gap in the adoption of telephones falling rapidly, particularly as mobile telephones spread across the world. In 2005, mobile penetration in the developed world was over three times higher than in developing countries (82% versus 23%). By 2015, this gap has closed significantly with mobile penetration at 121% in developed countries and 92% in developing countries. While larger gaps remain in broadband Internet (mobile and fixed) subscriptions, higher growth rates for both technologies in developing countries point to the same conclusion: overall, developing countries are catching up with developed countries in a range of ICTs.

According to Cisco’s 2015 Visual Networking Index (VNI), we now stand at a clear digital tipping point – by 2019, the number of people connecting to Internet will be 3.9 billion, reaching over 51% of the global population. As over one billion additional people connect to the Internet over the next five years, over 10.2 billion new devices (smartphones, tablets, sensors, etc.) will come online at the same time, growing from 14.2 billion in 2014 to 24.4 billion in 2019; and 10.5 billion of these will be M2M.

This ‘good news’ story, however, masks an emerging digital divide in this next phase of the Internet, which will be characterized by a growing number of connected devices of all kinds. In North America, there were 6.1 networked devices per capita in 2014 with a forecast of 11.6 devices per capita by 2019 (a CAGR of 14% in total devices). In Western Europe, the number will be 8.2 devices per capita by 2019, up from 4.4 devices per capita in 2014 (13% CAGR). However, in Latin America, there were only 2.0 connected devices per capita in 2014, with an expected rise to 2.9 by 2019 (9% CAGR), and in the Middle East/Africa region, growth is expected to be similarly slow growing from only 1.0 connected device per capita in 2014 to 1.4 by 2019 (9% CAGR as well).

The Emerging Digital Divide

The contrast across regions in M2M devices is even more stark. While globally, over 43% of all devices in 2019 will be M2M, advanced regions of the world are ahead of the curve. In the UK, M2M devices will account for 48% of all devices by 2019. In Australia the share will be 54%; the US it will be 58%; Japan 68% and in Korea, 72%. By comparison, in most developing countries the number of M2M devices are still at a nascent level: In India, only 13% of all devices by 2019 will be M2M, across Africa and Middle East, the share will be only 17%, in South Africa it will 22%; Brazil and Mexico will be 32%.

Why does this matter? While developing countries are catching up in basic ICT penetration, this growing gap in connected devices and M2M connections may point to big differences in how societies are utilizing, and benefitting from, the Internet and the next generation of the digital transition. For example, network effects and externalities that multiply the impacts of ICTs require minimum adoption thresholds before those impacts begin to materialize, and the greater the intensity of ICT use, the greater the impacts on economic growth (even beyond saturation levels of penetration).

It is important to recognize the global success in advancing the adoption of ICTs, particularly telephones and the Internet, around the world. Private sector telecom investment supported by smart government policies fostered infrastructure development to the extent that now over 90% of the world’s population is covered by mobile telephone signals.

We must continue the push for greater access and adoption of ICTs among lower-income groups to further accelerate income gains at the base of the economic pyramid. Policy action should focus on preventing and bridging this emerging digital divide in M2M and connected devices, achieved through partnership and private sector investment, enabled by conducive business environments and crafted by pro-innovation and pro-investment government policies. As the 2015 State of Broadband report highlights, more needs to be done to accelerate the adoption of ICTs and total connected devices and close the gaps between developed and developing countries, as well as high-income and low-income populations.

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A Celebration of STEM Mentoring – the Million Women Mentors Descend on Washington

When it comes to encouraging more students to enter the fields that make up STEM –Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – American faces twin crises. First, how do we meet the looming 1.8 million shortfall in the number of workers who have the technical skills necessary for the jobs of tomorrow? And second, how do we ensure that more women and girls go into these fields?

The good news is that there are some true leaders committed to solving this problem. Among them, Cisco’s own Liz Centoni, Vice President, Engineering Strategy & Portfolio Planning and Chief of Staff for Chief Development Officer. Liz sits in the part of Cisco that innovates and develops our new technologies, products and solutions, the core of Cisco’s engineering team. Liz is an active mentor and supports under-represented minorities. At Cisco, she launched a “Women in Engineering Leadership” forum, and is the Global Executive Sponsor for Cisco’s Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), a recipient of the YWCA (Silicon Valley) 2015 TWIN Award, and CloudNOW’s “Top 10 Women in Cloud-2015.”

That’s why this week Liz will be honored by one of our nation’s most notable organizations that is trying to make mentoring a national priority – Million Women Mentors.

The Million Women Mentors organization is dedicated to advancing the education of girls and women in STEM. Today, Million Women Mentors is meeting at the National Press Club for an annual summit and gala. Cisco is proud to be both a sponsor and participant.

Cisco believes passionately in STEM mentoring as a tool that can help advance diversity in the STEM fields, a cause we wholeheartedly support. We are especially honored to be among the group – public and private – scheduled to receive awards tonight. We have committed to the US2020 pledge – that 20 percent of our workforce will mentor students in STEM annually by 2020. We have also significant programs in place to train students to meet the needs of the 21st century economy, as well as to increase the number of students of all backgrounds to go into STEM.

We’re proud to share the stage with other corporate leaders and elected officials, including Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

As Patrice D’Eramo, Cisco’s vice president of America’s Field Marketing and a one of the Vice Chairs of the MWM told me: “Each of us has an obligation to extend a hand mentoring the next generation of leaders,” she said. “We want to open the door of opportunity to all students – and especially girls and young women– to be aware of STEM careers and to be excited by the possibilities that are out there. My career in tech is living proof what happens when you are mentored, in STEM, at a young age.”

I could not agree more.

Congratulations to Liz, other awardees, and the Million Women Mentor’s organization on this day of celebration. The work they do truly makes a difference.

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Revising the Storyline – Senate Leadership & New Industry Cooperation for the 5.9 GHz Band

A letter from private sector businesses and organizations to the Federal Communications Commission, and Departments of Transportation and Commerce, agreeing on a single set of principles to examine use of the 5.9 GHz band by unlicensed devices, arrives like the fall weather – crisp, clear and a relief from the heat and humidity of summer.  This letter lays out a clear path forward for determining whether sharing in the 5.9 GHz band can take place without causing harmful interference.

And even more noteworthy, members of the Senate Commerce Committee had a strong hand in moving the parties into agreement – demonstrating once again that a bit of well-executed oversight can have a tremendously positive impact on issue resolution.

For a while now, we’ve been reading cringe-worthy news reports about different segments of the industry supporting violently different views of what the 5.9 GHz band should become. Because the 75 MHz of radio spectrum (5850-5925 MHz) sits adjacent to a large swath existing unlicensed spectrum, the notion is that in some way, it may be possible for unlicensed technologies (such as Wi-Fi) to utilize bits of the 5.9 GHz radio spectrum that incumbents (such as intelligent transportation systems) are not using.

But that simple idea has itself generated controversy – exactly how would that happen? And who decides? Based on what?   After all, the incumbent ITS uses are “safety of life” uses – designed by the Department of Transportation and auto industry to enable unimpaired drivers to avoid dangerous and even deadly accidents and road conditions.

Full disclosure: Cisco has been working on technology that would allow Wi-Fi to share the 5850-5895 MHz portion of the band while ensuring current and planned ITS uses could use the band undisturbed by radio interference. Cisco believes that we can listen, detect, and avoid ITS uses of the band, and that the benefits of using this spectrum – away from active roadways where ITS use would be prevalent – are huge. Cisco also offers solutions to the transportation sector that include ITS radios. As a result, Cisco is strongly interested in a “win-win” for the two radio communities of interest.

What’s to admire about this letter?

For starters, it embraces the view that regulators ought to consider having different systems share the same radio spectrum – provided that that there is an objective fact-based case to demonstrate that the systems with superior rights are protected from interference.

That’s good for consumers, because:

(1) it ensures driving will be safer ;

(2) it ensures we’re using radio spectrum resources as intensively as possible; and (3) if we can make Wi-Fi share effectively, that means more Wi-Fi channels will be available for broadband connectivity.

We also agree – the FCC, in close coordination with the DoT and other federal agencies – should take the lead to ensure that testing and modeling support a future decision to open the band for shared use. The FCC has the appropriate skills and expertise to understand how to evaluate the complexities of advanced radio sharing, while the DoT understands best what the ITS radios must be able to achieve from a performance standpoint when installed in cars and on roadways.

We also agree that the parties and agencies should utilize the FCC’s docketed proceeding to ensure relevant data and testing are available on the public record for any interested party to access. This is the best mechanism to ensure all sides are heard.

And we strongly agree that the process of evaluating new technologies for sharing should not be held to a simplistic deadline, after which the examination is abandoned in favor of some other approach.

When Wi-Fi embarked on an effort in 2002 to open up other sections of the 5 GHz band to unlicensed use, it took nearly four years before the FCC adopted final rules that permitted Wi-Fi to share the band with governmental radars.   The process of opening new spectrum to sharing is complex and contains unexpected twists and turns that cannot be anticipated.

Congratulations to the Senate Commerce Committee for aligning the parties around a path forward, and to the private party signatories for thinking through what they could agree on, instead of continuing to disagree.

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Concerns about the Department of Commerce’s Proposed Export Rule under the Wassenaar Arrangement

Today, Cisco filed comments on a Proposed Rule published by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) in an effort to comply with an international agreement called the Wassenaar Arrangement. The proposal would regulate a wide array of technologies used in security research as controlled exports, in the same manner as if they were munitions. Cisco, along with many other stakeholders in the cybersecurity research field, has identified a number of significant concerns that we believe require BIS to revisit the text of the Proposed Rule.

BIS’ focus on limiting the cross-border trafficking of weaponized software is well-intentioned, but the current text would cause significant unintended consequences that must be addressed in a revised draft of the Proposed Rule. If implemented in its current form, the Proposed Rule would present significant challenges for security firms that leverage cross border teams, vulnerability research, information sharing, and penetration testing tools to secure global networks, including Cisco. The result would be to negatively impactrather than to improvethe state of cybersecurity.

The goal of regulating the export of weaponized software is understandable. However, many of the same techniques used by attackers are important to developers testing their defenses and developing new effective responses. Cisco needs access to the very tools and techniques that attackers use if we have any hope of maintaining the security of our products and services throughout their anticipated lifecycles. The development of new export control requirements must, therefore, be done carefully and based upon the needs of legitimate security researchers. Otherwise, we will leave network operators blind to the attacks that may be circulating in the criminal underground—and ultimately blind to the very weaponized software that the proposed rule intends to constrain.

The requirements in the Proposed Rule are far broader than necessary to address BIS’ stated intent—controlling the export of weaponized software. We look forward to working with the Department of Commerce to ensure that the goals of the proposal can be met in a manner that is technology neutral, narrowly tailored to the actual risks faced by the nation, and reflective of the needs of legitimate security researchers seeking to protect the information technologies upon which we increasingly rely.

We look forward to continuing the conversation.


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Statement of Jennifer Sanford on Passage of Trade Package

Congress has now approved a landmark trade package including Trade Promotion Authority and Trade Adjustment Assistance.  This is a significant accomplishment that just a week ago looked in serious doubt.

This trade package will give President Obama the ability to conclude negotiations on the TransPacific Partnership; it gives Congress the authority to establish priorities in those negotiations, and it provides $1.8 billion for worker re-training.

Free trade supports American jobs.  At our facility in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, for instance, some 4,500 plus jobs are supported by free trade, including hundreds of jobs at our technical assistance center.  Put simply, our engineers in North Carolina couldn’t help customers in Europe, Asia and the Americas if data is not able move freely around the world. The TPA bill supports this kind of digital trade.

The economic impact of free trade goes well beyond one company or one industry.  It affects every sector of every industry in the economy.  According to the Business Roundtable, free trade supports 39.8 million jobs across the nation.

On behalf of Cisco, I’d like to thank President Obama for his leadership on trade, as well as Republican and Democratic members of both the House and the Senate for their courageous votes on this issue.

Enacting this legislation is a critical part of ensuring American competitiveness over the next generation.

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