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SHOCKING!! Cisco Position on Net Neutrality

The title, of course, is what we in the business call irony. I’ve been a bit surprised from some of the coverage that we’ve received on our “net neutrality” position…posted on our external site here. We are said to be siding with service providers on their position and against legislation to mandate net neutrality rules. Both of those sentiments, it seems, could be said about many, if not the majority, of our public policy positions. I would tweak it a bit and say that we are siding with consumers, but that’s me with a Cisco hat on.Seriously, our number one goal here is to give consumers the best experience on the web that they can possiby get. Our other goal is to keep government from over-regulating anything that touches the web. Technology moves so quickly (Moore’s law anyone?) that by the time a regulation or law is made the technology has generally already moved past the regulation or law’s perceived effectiveness.I was talking to a colleague about this issue and he asked a great question, “How is this different from a cable or satellite subscriber wanting basic cable versus premium channels, on-demand, DVR, etc.?” “Great point,” says I. Very similar models. Our position says that a consumer should be able to access any legal website and application over the web that his/her bandwidth enables, i.e. basic cable/basic broadband – you get everything you pay for and any premium channels you don’t get because you don’t pay for. If you want a pay-per-view, for example, however, you could pay for that movie (or that web application) on a one-off basis. No different.One of my colleagues who is more policy focused and/or technology focused could come along and tell me that I’m not understanding this fully and that’s fine, but the understanding that I have delineated above makes perfect sense to me from a cable/satellite subscription model as well as a broadband subscriber model. Further, if a content provider wants to make sure that you get their content even though you only pay for a “basic” bandwidth, then that content provider should be able to reach an agreement with the service provider to allow you to access the application that may take more bandwidth than you pay for in your basic broadband subscription.Ultimately, it’s for a better consumer experience and that’s all we’re talking about.

ATT’s Whitacre on Net Neutrality: “AT&T is not going to block anyone’s access to the Internet”

I would like to draw your attention to an article on today’s “Telephony Online” website. Authored by Carol Wilson and entitled, “Whitacre Makes Internet Access Promise“, the article quotes ATT Chairman and CEO Whitacre as saying the following: “Companies are trying to scare people into thinking the Internet is at risk or that the Internet as we know it will disappear. AT&T is not going to block anyone’s access to the Internet and we are not going to degrade anyone’s quality of service. And that is not going to change no matter how much anyone talks about Net neutrality.”Although Mr. Whitacre and I may have slightly different paygrades and slightly different levels of impact on the telecommunications market, I would concur with his statement from where I sit at Cisco. The net neutrality issue is a solution in search of a problem that doesn’t exist.Please read the full article here or cut and paste this URL:

Everybody’s Talking About…Blogs

ATW – The Alliance of Technology and Women – is holding a panel session on blogging on Thursday, March 23rd in Foster City, CA with some area bloggers to chat about their experiences with blogging at large and small companies, service business and non profits. Please come, won’t you?Panelists include: yours truly; – Robin D. Stavisky, Managing Partner of New Venture Marketing (Moderator) at; – Paul Rosenfeld, General Manager for QuickBooks Online Edition at; – Tara Hunt, Marketing Director, (Panelist) at; and – Britt Bravo at (the leading blog and conference for women “to pursue exposure, education, and community”),, her personal blog, Have Fun * Do Good, and All may attend…for a nominal fee…the particulars are here: Date and time: Thursday, March 23, 2006, 5:30 -8:30 PMLocation: Applera, 200 (room 2A) Lincoln Centre Drive, Foster City, CA 94404Registration:For online registration, go to: The advanced registration is $10 for members and $25 for non-members (add an extra $5 for registrations at the door).

Cisco “Net Neutrality” Position

Net Neutrality has been a hot topic in technology circles, so I thought you would be interested in Cisco’s position. Here it is:Net NeutralityConnectivity Principles and Consumer ChoiceCisco has long supported an open and innovative Internet. Many of the Internet’s benefits come from its open nature and the ability of anyone to develop new and innovative devices and services that connect to it. Such innovation has created entirely new industries and has fostered competitive markets in Internet applications and equipment. Recognizing these advantages, Cisco helped produce the High Tech Broadband Coalition’s”Connectivity Principles” in 2003, which were embodied in the FCC’s Policy Statement of 2005. The Connectivity Principles and FCC Policy protect consumers with information and the ability to use the Internet in an open fashion. Cisco continues to support these principles:1. Broadband Internet access consumers should have access to their choice of legal Internet content within the bandwidth limits and quality of service of their service plan. 2. Broadband Internet access consumers should be able to run applications of their choice, within the bandwidth limits and quality of service of their service plans, as long as they do not harm the provider’s network.3. Consumers should be permitted to attach any devices they choose to their broadband Internet access connection at the consumer’s premises, so long as they operate within the bandwidth limits and quality of service of their service plans and do not harm the provider’s network or enable theft of services.4. Consumers should receive meaningful information regarding their broadband Internet access service plans.Network ManagementInnovation inside the network is just as important as innovation in services and devices connected to the Internet. As the Internet becomes better, faster and more integral to our economy and personal lives, it is necessary for broadband Internet access providers to use innovative technology to manage their networks to provide quality of service and new features and services to meet evolving consumer needs. Cisco supports the use of network management tools by Internet access providers to improve the Internet experience as long as there is no anticompetitive effect. Specifically, Cisco supports:- Broadband Internet access service providers should remain free to engage in pro-competitive network management techniques to alleviate congestion, ameliorate capacity constraints, and enable new services. – Broadband Internet access service providers should remain free to offer additional services to supplement broadband Internet access, including bandwidth tiers, quality of service, security, anti-virus and anti-spam services, network management services, as well as to enter into commercially negotiated agreements with unaffiliated parties for the provision of such additional services.Regulate Only if Problems Occur, Not Before In recent years, telecommunications regulation has had a difficult time keeping up with changes in technology and markets. Imposing specific network neutrality rules now to address hypothetical problems would only compound the problem. Rather, the FCC has taken the appropriate path by setting forth principles and indicating that it will take enforcement action in the event that problems arise. At present, there is no indication of any significant violations of the Connectivity Principles by broadband Internet access providers. Cisco therefore supports case-by-case FCC action only if and when it is faced with a specific complaint with respect to the Connectivity Principles or related anticompetitive behavior.

Guest Blogger Jim Fenton: “Mail Authentication as a Peephole”

This entry is from guest blogger Jim Fenton. Fenton is a Distinguished Engineer in the Security Technology Group at Cisco. Even though Cisco isn’t an e-mail vendor, it’s beneficial to users of the Internet (and therefore strategic to Cisco) to improve the accountability for Internet messages. That’s the reason that Cisco has been active in co-developing and standardizing DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), an e-mail authentication technology based on cryptographic signatures. The new DKIM Working Group will hold its first meetings at the IETF meeting in Dallas March 20-24.The question many people ask, and one of the hurdles in getting the working group chartered, is,”What good is e-mail authentication, anyway? It won’t stop spam and phishing!” Indeed it won’t; spammers and phishers will sign their own messages, most likely using throw-away e-mail domains they register for a single use. The same is true for other methods of e-mail authentication, such as Sender ID Framework and SPF. In fact, many spammers were early adopters of SPF, and I expect that they will be early DKIM adopters as well.The similarity that works well for me is that of a peephole in your front door or hotel room door. When there’s a knock at the door, you look out. If you recognize the person and it’s a friend, you open the door and let them in. If it’s someone who looks sinister (or a landshark!) then you don’t. If it’s someone you just don’t recognize, you use additional means of identification: perhaps you ask them via an intercom who they are and what their business is. Do peepholes unambiguously identify everyone? No. The same is true for e-mail authentication. This is not a problem with peepholes or e-mail authentication, but simply that they aren’t intended to be used in a vacuum.This is a policy blog, so what’s the policy angle on this? In the same sense that governments shouldn’t mandate the authentication of callers at your front door, they shouldn’t mandate e-mail authentication (and especially the use of specific technologies). It’s entirely reasonable to advocate the use of authentication technologies, much as they do in recommending the use of peepholes. To push the metaphor further, just as peepholes, intercoms, and video cameras all may have a role in authenticating callers, the various e-mail authentication technologies all provide some information that may be useful to the recipient, and two or more technologies may be used together. It should be up to the recipient what forms of authentication they use. Callers (message senders) will quickly learn what they need to do in order to be recognized.