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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.

Technology Policy Summit Announced

SAN JOSE, CA – Wanted to bring your attention to the just announced Technology Policy Summit to be held in San Jose next February 26-27. Cisco is co-sponsoring and quite an impressive line-up is already on board, including Time magazine’s Karen Tumulty, The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg, CNBC‘s Jim Goldman, CBS News’ Larry Magid, Technology Daily’s Drew Clark, National Journal’s Bara Vaida and Business 2.0’s Om Malik.Additionally, a learned group of advisors is helping put the conference together, including: Robert Atkinson, President, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF); Mark Blafkin, VP for Public Affairs, Association for Competitive Technology (ACT); James Fallows, Chair, New America Foundation & National Correspondent, The Atlantic Monthly; Sean Garrett, Partner, 463 Communications; Lauren Gelman, Associate Director, Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet & Society; John Palfrey, Executive Director, Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society; and Chris Shipley, Co-founder and Global Research Director, Guidewire Group.As today’s press release states, the invite-only “two-day summit bridges the gap between tech industry insiders and policy experts who may have different perspectives but who share a common goal of enabling innovation. Focusing on America’s competitiveness agenda, the program will address issues such as broadband deployment, network neutrality, cyber security, patent reform, international trade and investments in China.”Learn more about the conference at the Technology Policy Summit website.