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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.

Senator Stevens is a Hero

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.

Vive la revolution !

PARIS, FRANCE – 40 °C/105 °F – On July 14th, France was on holiday for the celebration of the 1789 Revolution (“Bastille Day”).Is a new revolution about to happen in Paris ? The Mayor of Paris -Bertrand Delanoa« – has announced a few days ago a plan to promote the”digital revolution”! The key points of this announcement :+ Objective is set : 80% of Paris buildings connected to fibre by 2010+ Ease operational deployments of FTTH : 90% discounted rights of way through sewers for 400 last meters to access buildings. + Make next generation broadband more visible : Creation of a label “smart building” to make the fibre-connected building more valuable and attractive for investors and tenants. + Encourage share of costs of passive infrastructures deployment : Rules for real-estate players to plan for and share ducts inside buildings. + Deployment of 400 free Wifi access points in public sites such as libraries, gardens, city halls, … + Offer to network operators some strategic high points for wireless deployments (notably Wimax)In Europe, the main cities are more and more aware that next generation broadband infrastructure is a key asset in the global competition between major poles of economic activity. But cities have different approaches : facilitating role only, public funding for passive infrastructures, investment into a public private partnership. Paris selected the first option because the primary passive infrastructure is mostly in place with the network of sewers, and because a public intervention would have been delicate from a regulatory standpoint in such a competitive context -Paris being already covered by DSL and cable.This political will and clear strategy should hopefully result in some interesting FTTx announcements from service providers in 2006 or beginning 2007 ! And will hopefully contribute to trigger the migration journey of France towards next generation broadband !In the meantime, a personal request to the Mayor of Paris : please install air conditioning in the subway !

Productivity Higher in Private Sector

LONDON – Cisco’s Worldwide Government Affairs team is pleased to welcome our two newest team members, Eleni and Alicia Allan, born last Saturday morning to the Richard Allan family. Richard is our Manager of Government Affairs based in London and, as a former Member of Parliament in the UK, he states, “As evidence that there is higher productivity in the private sector: while in 10 years of life in the political world previously there were precisely 0 babies in the Allan household.” See Richard’s bio.Congratulations to Richard and family and we look forward to meeting the new Allan ladies soon.Allan babies.July 2006.bmp