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What Will a Democratic Congress Mean for Technology?

SAN JOSE, CA – So, Senator George Allen (R-VA) has just conceded his Senate race and the Senate will now be under Democratic control. He was a solid supporter of techology issues and his efforts on behalf of the technology industry will be missed. He and Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) were two of the 11 votes in the Senate Commerce Committee that effectively killed Net Neutrality (regulating the Internet) efforts in the Senate. As they will no longer be in the Senate, what will this mean for Net Neutrality and other technology issues?It should be stated that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is interested in technology policy and introduced an “Innovation Agenda” last year, so there certainly is leadership in the House for technology. Silicon Valley’s own local Members of Congress, Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren and Mike Honda, will now be in the majority so let us hope that some of the items that Mrs. Pelosi has outlined will be accomplished. Now that Mrs. Pelosi is soon to be Speaker-designate Pelosi, will her home state’s technology industry have more clout in Congress? Same can be said for Senators Boxer and Feinstein. We’ll have to wait and see. However, in a recent BusinessWeek article, Mrs. Pelosi said that Cisco CEO John Chambers will likely be one of the industry leaders that she will “consult regularly” with. So, hopefully, the technology industry will be well represented within the new Congressional agenda.For some opinions on “What will Democratic Congress Mean for Technology?”, please go to National Journal’s Technology Daily “Tech Daily Dose” blog.Also, Scott Cleland’s Precursor blog has some good thoughts, as well as Verizon’s Poliblog.

Off Topic: Angry Old Man Rant

SAN JOSE, CA – Okay, I’m going off topic here, but WHY CAN’T CALIFORNIANS USE THEIR TURN SIGNALS???!!! I’m from North Carolina (home of Nascar) where you have to drive everywhere because there is little public transportation. People are nice there…at least to your face. : ) But, generally, people are respectful of their neighbors and surroundings. AND, turn signals aren’t optional. Car manufacturers put them in all cars and people actually use them. Why is it that turn signals are used so infrequently in California? Picture this (which happens all too often): I’m driving to work this morning and a car brakes right in front of me and then slowly takes a right turn. Perhaps this person has two broken wrists or has a sincere phobia against turn signals, however, in either case IMHO, they should not be driving.Please, PLEASE, fellow Californians, for the sake of safety (and sanity) USE YOUR TURN SIGNALS!!! Many of you have likely seen the new Lexus commercials where the car will parallel park by itself. Maybe the next advanced technology feature of a car should be if you think you are going to turn then the turn signal activates. Don’t get me wrong, the turn signal that never is turned off while driving is as bad as the turn signal that is never used, but, really, is it that difficult? Respect your neighbors, respect safety and USE YOUR TURN SIGNALS!!!This entry brought to you by an angry old man.angry man.jpg

Pepper v. Cerf on Net Neutrality

SAN JOSE, CA – Cisco’s Robert Pepper debated Google’s Vint Cerf today in San Francisco at the Web 2.0 Summit and by all accounts the debate was a draw. Given the fact that it was a very friendly crowd to Cerf’s side of the argument (i.e. pro-regulation of the Internet), this is definitely a victory for those against Net Neutrality (i.e. anti-regulation of the Internet). Reports are that Cerf was a bit surly and agitated (and even “bristled”) by some of the arguments, although he got the most applause by attacking Cisco…not sure why, as I think we’re a good (and nice) company, but to each his/her own.Maybe Cerf is agitated to be advocating for a position based on where he is sitting rather on where he stands. Clearly, when he was at MCI, he was anti-regulatory, but, hey, he knows where his bread is currently buttered.Anyway, there is a good write up on ValleyWag for your reading pleasure.Also, please see a previous blog entry where I surmise that Vint Cert and Robert Pepper may have been separated at birth.

“American’s Internet Disconnect” by Michael J. Copps

SAN JOSE, CA – Wow. Seriously. WOW!! If you haven’t yet read today’s editorial in The Washington Post by FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps, READ IT. I don’t know Copps, but I think this may be love at first sight.Here’s the lede: “America’s record in expanding broadband communication is so poor that it should be viewed as an outrage by every consumer and businessperson in the country. Too few of us have broadband connections, and those who do pay too much for service that is too slow. It’s hurting our economy, and things are only going to get worse if we don’t do something about it.”As our CEO John Chambers said on stage with Senator John McCain last week, the definition that the FCC has for broadband is ridiculous at 200Kpbs. Copps says, “Today the agency’s (The FCC’s) reports seem designed mostly to obscure the fact that we are falling behind the rest of the world. The FCC still defines broadband as 200 kilobits per second, assumes that if one person in a Zip code area has access to broadband then everyone does and fails to gather any data on pricing.”Read the full editorial now and let’s hope that the Democrats do something about this in the new Congress.

The John and John Show: McCain and Chambers Talk Innovation

SAN JOSE, CA – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Cisco President and CEO John Chambers shared a stage on Friday at the San Jose Convention Center at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Annual Public Policy luncheon. Stephen Wright, editor of the San Jose Mercury News editorial page, questioned the pair about R&D, Immigration, What’s Going Right and more. No, not that Steven Wright.When asked by Wright what was the one thing that Congress could do to make the biggest impact to innovation the responses were thus: (I’m paraphrasing)McCain: Immigration reform. We need to get more H1-B workers in the US in order to have the educated workers available in the innovation creating jobs.Chambers: Broadband. We need to put the rhetoric on the back burner and need to focus on making broadband a priority in the United States. We need a national broadband plan. We need to change the current FCC broadband measurement of 200Kpbs to 100 or even 500 times faster. The U.S. is falling behind on broadband and without leadership and focus we will continue to do so. McCain: I agree with John.So, will broadband be back on the front burner in 2007 in Congress? It remains to be seen, but the White House and the FCC could go a long way by creating a new measurement of broadband (not the current “fast dial-up” of 200Kpbs that currently constitutes broadband as measured by the FCC) so we can actually see where we truly rank in the world. We’ve been doing okay if you measure how many new subscribers there are to broadband, but, as noted, the measurement of what is broadband is a lot slower in the U.S. than it is elsewhere in the world, so we are being lulled a bit in a false sense of where we truly rank in the world. The truth of matter is that until fiber is the last mile, we will continue to measure broadband in Kpbs instead of Mbps in this country. There is a duopoly between cable and telephony right now and, sure, a third competitor in the broadband space would be swell, but until we incent service providers to build fiber to the home we, as a nation, will not more forward in the broadband race. And, yes, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the fact that if net neutrality is passed into law that companies would have even less reason to invest in the next generation networks that will provide true broadband. And, yes, that would put us further behind in the broadband race. Why does this matter you say? Let’s say you want to locate your new business in a country that has the proper infrastructure. You want good roads. You want good ports. You want good water, electricity, services, etc. You also want good broadband. If country “A” has all of the above and 100Mbps broadband service to every household and country “B” (as Borat says, “the US and A”) has all but the broadband, then, you can expect that those jobs will start going to country A. That’s why.I would be even more remiss if I didn’t mention that the luncheon also honored longtime Applied Materials CEO and Chairman Jim Morgan for his service to Silicon Valley. He was also a longtime member of Cisco’s Board of Directors. You can see the Mercury News story here.