Most Americans don’t know it, but radio spectrum has become an indispensable tool in our daily lives. Spectrum is the invisible link between our smart phones, tablets, laptops, fitbits, and other mobile devices to the Internet. It carries the video, voice, text and rich media that has transformed the world around us.
Recognizing this reality, Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) have formed a new Spectrum Caucus to focus attention in Congress and around the country about the vital need for more spectrum for broadband. No doubt about it, radio spectrum is a hot topic on Capitol Hill. Here’s why:
- The recently released Cisco Mobile Visual Networking Index forecasts that by 2018, consumers will be sending 2.7 exobytes/month over cellular networks, nearly eight times the data sent over US mobile networks in 2013. That type of traffic growth has a serious impact on networks and the potential for network congestion – unless more spectrum can be found.
- Just as consumers are loading the licensed airwaves with video and other apps, they are also loading up Wi-Fi networks. Demand for Wi-Fi networks is rising both for use in the home and enterprise, and to offload mobile traffic. By 2018, consumers, using devices equipped with both Wi-Fi and mobile capability, will offload 64% of their data to Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is an essential access technology, and also requires radio spectrum.
- Why is this all important? A study for GSM by Deloitte and using Cisco demand forecasts found that a doubling of mobile data traffic leads to an increase in GDP per capita of 0.5%. Creating wireless connectivity that enables wireless data usage grows economies. That’s huge.
- For Wi-Fi, a Cisco-sponsored study by Plum Consulting showed that just the value of increasing Wi-Fi spectrum for mobile offloading, along the benefit of de-congesting dense Wi-Fi environments, would can be valued in the billions.
By no means does this represent the universe of spectrum issues. Growth in Machine to Machine uses and the Internet of Everything represent an emerging category of spectrum uses. The recently released Department of Defense Spectrum Strategy demonstrates that our Defense spectrum needs are growing and changing also.
Every member of Congress uses radio spectrum every day, whenever they reach for a smartphone or use Wi-Fi. As do all their constituents. Everyone needs to think about how we can be better stewards of our radio spectrum. So let me thank Representatives Matsui and Guthrie for forming this new Caucus and bringing focus to this critical matter.
I’ve commented here about the imperative to return to a patent system that incents and rewards innovation and discourages the speculators and opportunists who are using litigation leverage and bad patents to extract money from the productive elements of the economy. That’s why we urge the Senate to follow the House’s overwhelming, bipartisan vote to limit patent rent-seeking by these financiers. We also welcome today’s White House initiative to drive better patent quality from the get-go by making sure applications that don’t meet patentability requirements aren’t granted. I am pleased to announce that Cisco will participate.
I once worked for a giant company whose employees used to joke, “If only we knew what we know.” Well, nowhere is that saying more true than in the search for prior art to determine if a patent should be granted. To do the most effective job of reviewing new patent filings, the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) needs ready access to relevant prior art so that patents aren’t improperly approved just because our superb but chronically overworked patent examiners have no practical way of finding it. This is especially important in rapidly developing fields where important advances aren’t captured in patent filings or conventional publications.
To improve the quality of patents in networking technology, Cisco is today committing to assembling our own public product documentation, converting it to electronic form, and making it readily searchable by examiners. We hope that our peers will join in this effort and help greatly broaden the scope of searchable prior art in the information technology field. Patent prior art search is an ideal opportunity to put “crowdsourcing” to work.
Additionally, we will continue to electronically publish many invention submissions that are not internally approved to be patent filings so that these too can be used by examiners. Another important aspect of this effort: continuing to provide examiners access to senior Cisco technical talent in the form of training on current technology and the prior art in the networking field.
As the owner of over 10,000 US patents and a frequent target of assertions of bad patents, we have a responsibility to work to improve the system with the tools we have. And we will keep doing so. When our patent examiners can say, “We know what we know”, we’ll be one more step toward a patent system that meets the Founders’ goal of truly “promoting progress in science and useful arts.”
Earlier today, the White House cybersecurity office and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) rolled out the first version of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. Congratulations to all in the public and private sector who worked so hard to get to this important milestone. The high level government and widespread private sector involvement in this work is a clear indication that cybersecurity remains a central challenge for businesses and governments alike.
Today’s rollout is just the beginning. NIST ran an exhaustive, open, process, with hundreds of comments, five public workshops around the country, and thousands of participants. More work will surely be needed going forward. As NIST says, the Framework will be an iterative process, and this is a dynamic area where threats and challenges change on a near-daily basis.
The result achieves the goals of most of the participants: a Framework that sets a common risk management language, is voluntary, flexible, based on existing best practices, recognizes the importance of innovation, and has global applicability. This approach sets an important precedent globally. It also demonstrates the value of public-private partnerships which are the basis for future action in this important area.
Cisco looks forward to continuing to work with those who participated in this process, as well as other stakeholders, to build on and incorporate lessons learned into future versions of the Framework.
“Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler in his speech today made it clear that transforming the nation’s E-Rate program is one of his biggest priorities. That is welcome news.
The E-Rate program has done an incredible job of connecting 100,000 schools and libraries to the internet since its inception. But technology has changed the way teachers teach and students learn, and the program must keep up with the times.
Chairman Wheeler understands that the next challenge is bringing broadband connectivity to a full classroom of students and teachers all at once. When this happens, it creates incredible opportunities to use video and cutting edge applications as part of the everyday learning process, which has been shown to lead to significant improvements in educational outcomes.
As part of our enduring commitment to improving K-12 education, Cisco has put forward a number of recommendations for how to modernize and reform E-Rate. We stand ready to work with the Chairman, the Commissioners, the FCC staff, and members of Congress to ensure that the program continues to be central to the Federal Government’s effort to improve education in every school in America.
Today’s decision by the US Department of Transportation to move forward with vehicle-to-vehicle safety technology for cars and light trucks is welcome news.
Not only does this mark the first use of radio technology that will make our driving experience safer, but it is also the first use of the Intelligent Transportation Service spectrum at 5.9 GHz that was set aside for these purposes nearly 15 years ago.
Just as important, this is a victory for IEEE 802.11 technology. ITS radios utilize this (802.11) technology, creating a real opportunity for Wi-Fi sharing in the 5.9 GHz band, since the two technologies were born from the same standard.
The FCC is continuing to conduct its analysis on whether sharing is technologically feasible. Cisco believes, given Wi-Fi’s ability to listen, detect, and avoid, that the band can be robustly utilized by ITS and Wi-Fi, while ensuring safety of drivers and passengers.
Cisco looks forward to working with the auto industry on the implementation of the next chapter in connected vehicles.