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Cisco on Net Neutrality: “We care about the entire value chain.”

SAN JOSE, CA – A quote by one of my colleagues in a recent article by San Jose Mercury News reporter Jessie Seyfer on net neutrality helped better frame the issue for me. Robert Pepper is a colleague of mine in Washington, DC and he has been at Cisco for almost a year now having joined us after nearly 20 years at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In talking about what the OTT’s (over-the-top providers – Google, Yahoo, Amazon, etc.) want out of this debate or the service providers (ATT, Verizon, Qwest, Comcast, etc.) want out of this debate, he framed Cisco’s position thusly: “Some of the people who are most public in this debate focus on one part of the value chain or another. We actually care about the entire value chain.”This position is clearly laid out in previous posts to this blog and our position is also posted on Cisco’s external website, but I think that this quote crystalizes why I think our middle-ground, compromise position will ultimately win the day…after all, policy-making is about consensus and when both sides are happy or both sides are sad, it is said, you have done a good job of negotiating an agreement.You can read the San Jose Mercury News article here.Read about Cisco’s position on net neutrality here.

POTUS’s In the Cisco House

SAN JOSE, CA – As you may have read, we hosted U.S. President Bush at Cisco last month. We were honored to have done so. This past week at our internal leadership offsite we were also honored to have former President Clinton as a guest speaker. (as teased in a blog entry last week).President Bush was at Cisco to talk about his Competitiveness Initiative – you can read more about that here.Former President Clinton talked about global interdependence and on the necessity to work with others, partner with others and how a more connected economy is better for us all. More than one Cisco employee who attended both of these sessions are now on a quest to have former Presidents Bush, Carter and Ford come to Cisco so we can complete the “all the living presidents” set. Read More »

Shout Out to

SAN JOSE, CA – My colleague, Jeanette Gibson, was on a blogging panel this week and was there and this here blog you are reading right now got a nice plug on their site. Check it out here: Okay, it was “check out Cisco’s High Tech Policy Blog” but I’ll take what I can get.I had a busy week in Monterey assisting with the arrangements of a guest speaker at our annual Leadership offsite and will blog on that next week. Hint: the guest speaker is from Arkansas, lives in New York, has a wife who is a Senator, has a buddy from Tennessee, and used to have the launch codes.

Eloquent Words From Qwest CEO

SAN JOSE, CA – Rather than replying to a comment from my last post I thought I would recommend the reading of a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Qwest CEO Richard Notebaert. Recent, as in March 29th.In defining the net neutrality debate, he offers the following analogy: “Say you decide to buy sweaters for holiday gifts. You calculate the price, add the cost for standard delivery, and send in your order. But L.L. Bean says “Hey, in the spirit of the season, we’re going to provide express delivery at no extra cost to the customer. We’ll work with Fed Ex to cover the gap between standard and expedited service.” Would we get government involved to stop it? Would it even occur to us to object? If Lands’ End said, “Not fair,” would we rally to its aid? And would the fact that other outdoor clothing providers might one day decide to enter the market justify turning a history and tradition of business practice on its head? Not a chance.”Very interesting point and very well said. You can use your own noodle to substitute for FexEx, L.L. Bean and Land’s End in this debate. Even though the Wall Street Journal has identified me as a “high-ranking executive” (see blog entry from April 3, 2006), Mr. Notebaert really is a high-ranking executive and has chosen his analogies and words more carefully than I in attempting to define the net neutrality debate. Must be the reason he is the CEO and I am not…yet. : )

Net Neutrality Debate is a “False Choice”

Today, I was talking to Robert Pepper, former long-time FCC’er and current Cisco colleague, and he described Net Neutrality as a “false choice.” The way the debate has currently been framed has it as an all or nothing scenario, i.e. you need to regulate or legislate or, the alternative, consumers get it in the shorts. This is just patently false. It is also too bad that some in this debate are trying to make this consumers vs. businesses. Do you really think that the big businesses who are arguing to legislate net neutrality have the best interests of consumers in mind? Sure they do…as long as it also makes them a buck. Our argument has been give to everybody access to legal appications on the internet but to allow providers to optimize the consumer experience, much like cell phone companies do. Let me ‘splain: If you only want to talk a little bit, then you only pay a little bit. If you want to talk a lot, then you pay more. If you only use your phone at certain times during the day (i.e. nights or weekends) then you can get a package that provides for that as well. In my mind, this is all providers are asking for – flexibility to give the consumers the best experience.The OTT’s (over the top providers) are saying that the government must legislate or regulate to keep providers from BLOCKING access. How many times has this actually happened you might ask. Um, that would be “What is once, Alex?” That’s right. Once. And the FCC quickly acted on this ONE misstep by a provider. Leave well enough alone…nothing is being blocked…and if something is blocked then there is already a mechanism for the FCC to act.