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The British Are Coming!! UK Prime Minister Visits Cisco

July 31, 2006 at 12:00 pm PST

SAN JOSE, CA -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Cisco headquarters today to talk about innovation, research and development, education and how the UK can attract more Silicon Valley investment. Cisco CEO John Chambers gave the Prime Minister a tour of some of Cisco’s latest technology as well as some soon to be announced technology. Suffice it to say that with Mr. Blair’s passion for the environment, the yet-to-be announced technology was right up his alley.WK8E4210-1.jpgA who’s who of Silicon Valley attended the luncheon discussion, including HP CEO Mark Hurd, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, AMD CEO Hector de J. Ruiz, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz (whom I’m sure will also be blogging on this), and Google Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf among others. Cisco’s UK country manager Duncan Mitchell; Cisco VP Marthin De Beer; Cisco IBSG SVP Gary Bridge; Laura Ipsen, Vice President of Worldwide Government Affairs; and Monique Meche, Cisco European Government Affairs head also participated in the meeting.As I stated in a previous blog, “What does a head of state get out of meeting with Cisco? First and foremost: knowledge. Cisco invented the technology that forms the core of the Internet. We use the secure internet to run our business and save billions of dollars in operational costs and efficiencies. We can help governments do the same.” The Prime Minister and his team visited Cisco to hear from Silicon Valley executives about innovation and research and development, but I would also surmise that Mr. Blair’s team saw and read about U.S. President Bush’s visit to Cisco this past April, where Mr. Bush stated he was happy to be at”one of America’s most innovative companies.” Cisco is, of course, honored to have hosted President Bush and now Prime Minister Blair in such a short span of time, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point out what I see as the obvious: they visited Cisco because they view us as the center of Silicon Valley and the center of innovation. I’m not saying that Mr. Bush picked up the phone after his visit to Cisco and said, “Tony, if you want to see innovation, go to Cisco,” but, clearly, they both wanted to be at the center of technology and they chose Cisco. Mr. Blair’s #10 Downing team and the British consulate in San Francisco were very professional and a pleasure to work with and we were honored to have hosted the entire delegation. Now that we have hosted 25% of the G8 this year, the invite remains to the rest of the G8 as well as to other world leaders to come and visit Cisco. We look forward to hosting you.

The Appetite for User-Generated Content

LONDON -- The BBC has a highly successful website offering high quality content. This has built up a loyal audience over a number of years and has been supported by significant public funding. They have taken an interest in user-generated content, looking at both citizen reporting and promoting “rip, mix and share” of their own content archives with great projects like BBC Backstage and the Creative Archive.There may be doubters about the value of user-generated content who would question this approach. But a quick look at this chart of comparative audience reach between bbc.co.uk and YouTube.com from Alexa should make everyone sit up and pay attention. The appetite for YouTube’s user-generated content is huge and growing and they have, at least on this measure, already shot past the BBC.

California: A Broadband Leader?

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -While the State of California has a ways to go in the broadband department, a major step forward was taken earlier this month when current Business, Transportation and Housing Agency Secretary Sunne McPeak was tapped to head the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), a project created from the mergers of SBC and AT&T and of Verizon and MCI. For details, please click here.Sunne McPeak.jpgSecretary McPeak’s responsibilities will include overseeing the development of broadband infrastructure for the CETF. She truly understands the need for California, with its 6th largest economy in the world, to play a crucial role in strengthening U.S. broadband competitiveness. As pointed out by my fellow Cisco bloggers, we are lagging behind countries like Japan and Korea whose citizens now enjoy much higher broadband speeds at much lower costs than we do in the U.S. California must invest in next generation, ultra high-speed broadband and work to ensure that connectivity is available to all, including underserved communities if it wants to compete successfully in the new economy. In 2003, TechNet rated California 14th among the states in broadband policy. California lagged because of its lack of a coherent broadband deployment strategy as well as significant regulatory burdens.Having worked with the Secretary in her various roles over the years, I can honestly say that if anyone can help move the state forward on broadband, it’s McPeak. Her vision, drive and execution are unparalleled. Point of Reference: Cisco’s Senior Vice President of Routing & Service Provider Technology Group, Mike Volpi, is an appointee to the CETF.

A Trip, A Fall: Dusting Off Protectionism

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Doha Development Agenda tripped -- and fell -- this weekend when governments failed to agree on a way forward to open market access and reduce subsidies among the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) 149 members. It’s a major disappointment that governments couldn’t find a way past their political impasse on agriculture, which -- while an important part of the world economy -- is holding up progress on a slew of other productivity-enhancing areas, like telecom services liberalization, technology tariff reduction and trade facilitation.WTO Logo.gifDespite the breakdown, business will continue, but will have to continue to divert scarce resources to overcome market barriers and inefficiences, such as high tariffs or onerous technical requirements. While governments hem and haw about choosing a “negotiating modality,” business will advance -- trade distortions and all -- but certainly at a cost to businesses and consumers in the developed and developing world.

Time for More Universal Service Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Recently, the FCC has expanded the contribution method for funding Universal Service at the federal level by expanding the contributions of wireless providers and by requiring that Voice over IP providers pay into the system. Although many VoIP providers had been paying into Universal Service voluntarily, the FCC order makes it mandatory and will likely raise the level of the fees. The FCC’s action will stabilize the Universal Service fund for a while, but it raises almost as many questions as it answers.By including VoIP providers in the Universal Service requirements, the FCC is eliminating an anomoly that created an opportunity for arbitrage by some VoIP providers. But by continuing the same contribution system that has different services paying into Universal Service at different rates, the opportunity for arbitrage still exists, just in the opposite direction.The correct answer would be to treat like services similarly, regardless of technology. The best and easiest way to achieve technology neutrality and eliminate arbitrage opportunities is to base Universal Service contribution on the use of PSTN numbers. A single monthly charge per number would treat all services — traditional telephony, cellular, VoIP — alike and would be easy for consumers to understand. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin proposed a numbers based system for Universal Service collection when he was a Commissioner. Hopefully, he will be able to convince his colleagues on the FCC to adopt this simple and fair method to fund Universal Service.