Chambers Cuts to the Chase With USA Today
Frank Talk on Important IssuesCisco President and CEO John Chambers gave some no nonsense responses to questions in a recent interview with USA Today. He explained Cisco’s point of view on net neutrality, on doing business with China and the company’s Scientific Atlanta strategy.USA Today: Since you’re in Washington, why don’t we start with the issue of net neutrality. Some Internet service providers want to stop treating all websites the same, and start charging extra fees for those who want to send content to users quickly. Much of the tech industry is backing legislation to prevent this. What’s Cisco’s stand?Chambers: Our country is running behind in broadband build-out. I’m interested in our country building out its infrastructure. For that to occur, I differ from some of my tech peers. My view is regulation is not the answer. If you don’t allow companies to build out with a high probability of a reasonable return, shareholders will punish them for building out.USA Today: What about the argument that we’d wind up with a two-tiered Internet and start-ups won’t have the same ability to reach consumers as wealthy companies such as Google?Chambers: I wouldn’t expect companies to pay for high-speed access - consumers will. If I want to watch a ballgame from multiple angles and perhaps telepresence across the country with my brother … to expect that free of charge is not realistic.USA Today: How about the consumer space? Cisco recently bought Scientific-Atlanta, a maker of cable set-top boxes for Time Warner and others. Is home networking panning out for you?Chambers: We’ve learned that entering a market you don’t understand by building products from scratch does not work. So we entered it by (buying) Linksys. We have over 50% retail market share. Combine that with Scientific-Atlanta.Video is hard. Only two players do it well, Motorola and Scientific-Atlanta.While we’d love to partner with (Motorola CEO) Ed Zander, it was too hard to move at the speed that was needed. So we bought Scientific-Atlanta.USA Today: Cisco equipment is used by countries such as China and Saudi Arabia, where the Internet is censored. What do you say about that?Chambers: We do not help any government modify our equipment or our code, not even our own. Whatever anyone does, they do off standard capabilities. It’s like anything you have - like the telephone. It can be used for good or bad.Make no mistake: The Chinese leadership understood that when they introduced the Internet, it would bring communications, capitalism and - my term - democracy over time. The benefits far outweigh any disadvantages.For the entire interview, go to USA Today.