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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.

Senator Stevens is a Hero

July 21, 2006 at 12:00 pm PST

SAN JOSE, CA -- So, there is a lot of chatter about Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) talking about the issue of net neutrality and the internet as a “series of tubes.” Those who do not know him are saying that he is out of touch, when, in reality, he simply misused a commonly used description for the Internet, i.e. “a series of pipes.”Jon Stewart of Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” has done a few pieces on Senator Stevens, including this one: . Stevens is certainly positioned as an out-of-touch Senator “messing” with technology and policy that he doesn’t undertand, but those who know Senator Stevens know that this is very far from the truth. He is one of the most thoughtful and passionate members of Congress there is. Without his vision and service to this nation, many of our fellow US citizens would not have phone service and, hence, the precursor to the buildout of the Internet through modems and now DSL. In my estimation, his advocacy for universal service is clearly one of the main reasons that the Internet is reaching all corners of the United States. Without his passion and foresight, many of those on the web that are bashing him as out of touch would not have web access. There’s the true irony…and, of course, the beauty of the Internet…all wrapped into one.