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Net Neutrality: Who’s David? Who’s Goliath?

SAN JOSE, CA – This net neutrality issue is vexing to me. It isn’t consistent. First, the Internet’s success has been largely because it has been an unregulated communications tool that has benefited everyone. The companies that are advocating the hardest for so-called “net neutrality” principles are actually advocating to regulate the internet and have the government intercede in what is at its core a market issue. Yet, they are somehow being viewed as the good-guys and for the little guy. How were they successful in defining the debate this way? I guess since they really only care about one side of the value chain of the Internet – the side that touches the users – they are viewed as representing the “little guy,” the end-user, the consumer. In reality, they are using their market power and big business lobbying oomph (that is a technical term) to shape the debate so that they can benefit from the network but don’t have to invest in it. The “other” side of the debate, mainly the service providers, are trying not to get their hands tied in developing next generation networks with speeds and feeds that will be able to support all the high-bandwidth consumer and business applications that are coming down the pike. They actually care deeply about consumers as well, which is why they are seeking help from their large users (see pro-net-neutrality advocates above) to pay for differentiated services and quality of service which will help offset the huge cost of their infrastructure investment. Otherwise, you know where those costs will go? Bingo. The consumer. So, in a real way, the pro-net neutrality crowd while claiming to represent the best interest of the consumer is really just trying to have the consumer pay for their right to ride the service provider networks. Read More »

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. : )