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Cisco’s John Chambers: Why America Needs A National Broadband Plan

March 17, 2010
at 12:00 pm PST

Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers offers his thoughts and insights on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) National Broadband Plan in BusinessWeek.  BusinessWeek states: “Business’ ability to compete — and Americans’ well-being — depend on fast Internet access.  Washington can help push the U.S. ahead, says Cisco’s Chambers.”

Chambers writes:

“If the U.S. military ranked 17th in the world, you can bet that as a nation we would make strengthening our armed forces a national priority. Yet that’s just how the U.S. stacks up against the rest of the world in terms of access to high-speed Internet connections. The vital communications systems that make our economy work and serve as a platform for business innovation and social interactions are second-class. Sadly, many of us have accepted that.

It’s time to overcome our broadband complacency. The national broadband plan sent to Congress on Mar. 16 by the Federal Communications Commission is critical to our economic and national security. Without a plan, we simply cannot compete.”

Read full BusinessWeek piece here.

Read and learn about the FCC’s National Broadband Plan.

 

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71 Comments.


  1. Government involvement is essential. To those who oppose it I propose this. There are around 16 nations ahead of the U.S. in internet availability: was there government involvement in those nations? I am sure yes. A world that used to be defined by who ruled the High Seas is now defined by who delivers the best network connections”” – that’s the point!”

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  2. While I do support a National Broadband Plan I don’t do so for the military applications, I would be more interested in seeing every school have broadband access.

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  3. As I was reading your article I was impressed with the ideas presented. Its absolutely a great chance and improvement if America will have its national broadband its because all the important communications nowadays are through Internet.

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  4. I hate the fact that even some people are still using dial up. I didn’t think that dial up was still around but people have proven me wrong. I have been using broadband for a while and I still think that it is too slow. If the internet is how we communicate and work then it needs to be top notch.

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  5. Jennifer Dunn

    I saw Aneesh Chopra, the Obama Administration’s CTO, speak about this on Tuesday. Despite what most of us would think there are still many dark”” pockets within the United States with little to no high-speed broadband access. We need a comprehensive plan to get to these areas so they can enjoy the same economic and social opportunities as more connected parts of the country.”

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  6. Australia is already doing it: You can look it up on Wikipedia under ‘National Broadband Australia.’ It’s going to cost them an expected 43 billion. The high cost is an obvious factor as to why we don’t have it yet. But it will be inevitable so why be left behind?

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  7. This idea’s time has truly come. I live out in the boonies where we depend upon satellite service but there are better cheaper methods that could be employed. Adam is right, a lot of people are still on dialup and I work on the net so when my satellite service is down, I have to use a backup 28.8 dialup and it’s awful.Like telephones – we need to reach everyone with this.l

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  8. Broadband is a great but the future will bring more let’s hope they will push the limit of network connections.

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  9. Without a plan, none can succeed. So I agree, it is important for anyone to have an actionable plan to really succeed and control the shape of future.Having said that, yes, it is tremendous to really improve in terms of broadband connection and in general the communication platform infrastructure. It is going to carry all a long way forward.

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  10. In this era of technology broadband seems the only solution for internet access anywhere.It should be a common belief and no need for any political approval!because broadband makes communication better and mainly faster!

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  11. John,I read a story about this morning, and their number was that the US was 15th (though I’m sure another person will say it’s a different number was well). I read both sides of the proposal, the one through the government, and the rebuttal on why the other side doesn’t think it would work. I think either way, something needs to be done, especially with how many homes are still without internet due to cost, availability, or lack interest. I see big changes happening in the future, and the proposed 100MB d/l in the next 10 years is a nice dream to have! :D

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  12. Everyone needs to support this project because nowadays internet is one of the mainline communications. Beside this is for the American’s well being.

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  13. Internet in BelgiumGovernment owns over 50% of the incumbent telco provider Belgacom, so there seems to be some difficulty in stimulating competition.As of April 2009, at the request of BIPT (the Belgian Institute for Postal service and Telecommunications), the consultancy firm Analysys Mason and Hogan & Hartson has drawn up a report regarding the development of the broadband market in Belgium and suggested a certain number of possible actions to promote competition on this market.At the request of Mr Vincent van Quickenborne, Minister of Enterprise and Simplification, the suggested action items have been submitted to the sector for consultation

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  14. I have to say that in the information technology age, a national broadband plan is absolutely necessary. Given the fact that EVERYTHING depends on the internet, this is crucial to our success. Not to mention, our internet is slow compared to other nations, and it’s not readily available in more remote areas. How about wireless internet available everywhere you go, no matter how far you are outside the city? Now that would be great!

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  15. America definitely needs a national broadband plan. It will be a dauting task however, under the current administration I think we can push for this stuff.

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  16. Couldn’t agree more. Just held a citywide rally for getting Google broadband in our town, but would much prefer a nationwide movement. I can’t say enough how much more efficient and quickly work would get done in offices across the country if we had broadband capabilities.

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  17. Its definitely high time something of this sort was implemented in this country. Already we face a situation where we have ‘information haves’ and ‘information have nots’ and risk creating a group of second class citizens. Imagine how much more difficult it is to find and apply for jobs for people without reliable internet access. this is an especially big problem for rural poor areas where many cannot afford satellite internet.

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  18. not only america need national broadband, but also in my country : indonesia. The population is getting crowded, then we need broadband

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  19. I read both sides of the proposal, the one through the government, and the rebuttal on why the other side doesn’t think it would work. I think either way, something needs to be done, especially with how many homes are still without internet due to cost, availability, or lack interest

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  20. Had no idea we ranked 17th in the world. Although I will say that since launching google analytics on a few of my web sites, it has been readily obvious we aren’t the only ones connected. Don’t you think that the sheer size of the US vs. smaller Asian and European countries has something to do with it. Almost like why mass transit has difficulty catching on with the urban sprawl.

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  21. You definitely have my full support to this national broadband plan, it can be beneficial for everyone!

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  22. The situation of braodband availability in my country india is not satisfactory. Even the technologies like 3g is not yet implemented. Only God known when the situation in broadband will improve in India ?

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  23. “If the U.S. military ranked 17th in the world, you can bet that as a nation we would make strengthening our armed forces a national priority. Strong and valid point, I am glad our military doesn’t rank 17th in the world. Though, it is shocking we rank that poorly in terms of our broadband. I hope the plan goes through to improve the US cloud!”

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  24. In general the roads are build by governments with taxpayer money. If we look on broadband as on the digital roads of 21st century, it should be the same. The reachest nations have the best roads. The poorest almost none. It is up to us where we want to go.–markafoni davetiyesi

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  25. Many fortune 500 corps receive a significant amount of revenue via micropayments. These have traditionally been made in cash and have crossed social boundarys transparently. Chocolate Bars,Magazines, Comics the list goes on. It would be a big mistake to ignore any social class when the next wave of micro payments takes hold. What would happen to McDonalds if poor people were not allowed into its chain. Get this wrong and the ecomomy as a whole will suffer.

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  26. No doubt due to the imminent General Election, plans to introduce a tax on all UK landlines to subsidise nationwide fast broadband availability have just been scrapped.

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  27. I wonder how this would affect rate plans in the long run and whom would run such an organization? I definately am not intrested in yet another gov run industry bu it will be neat to see how this unfolds

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  28. America needs broadband NOW. We have to continue to invest in our infrastructure in order to succeed in the future!

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  29. Wow I’m surprised the US is so far behind… 17th? I would have expected top 3 at least!Definitely is a good goal to promote broadband, I suppose the only problem is the cost…?

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  30. Despite what most of us would think there are still many “dark” pockets within the United States with little to no high-speed broadband access. We need a comprehensive plan to get to these areas so they can enjoy the same economic and social opportunities as more connected parts of the country.

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  31. I haven’t read both sides of the issue but I did read the written statement of Julius Genachowski and I’m a little thrown by points made in the plan. One of the first points made in the written statement has to do with acceptance of broadband in the US. Appears that 35% of the US has access but does not exercise that access. I’m not sure any part of the plan will change these numbers. The demographics of this population may shed light on reasons they are holding out – age, income, lack of interest?Less than 4% of the US (based on the figures in the written statement) lack access to broadband. While it may be beneficial educationally for that population to have access, a plan targeting 4% of Americans seems unbalanced considering the expense involved in such a program.Job creation is mentioned often in regards to this program but unless those jobs are only the ones necessary to work on broadband expansion (systems and installation), then I don’t understand where the jobs are coming from.The more important objectives of the plan are first responders access, security and competitiveness but those seem delegated a lower priority simply based on its placement in the written document.I agree it’s important to have a competitive infrastructure but in reading the plan it seems to play on our heartstrings”” (empathy for those without broadband access and the current unemployment rate) in order to win consumer support for a program that is really about ecommerce and security.”

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  32. Everyone needs to support this project because nowadays internet is one of the mainline communications. Beside this is for the American’s well being.

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  33. @Bruno Lesage: And finally, due to these actions we have obtained a faster Internet with less limitations. Telenet and Belgacom are increasing speed & data traffic. Now it’s time to go to a free Internet for everyone!

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  34. I did not know that the US ranked 17th. I knew that Europe did better, but 17th is a shock. Government involvement: I am not so sure. Right now, the government is asked to fix everything and there are advantages of leaving bureaucrats out of an exciting game which might have huge consequences for future developments. A government involvement: Would that not only mean, that country bumbkin Joe Blow finally can get streaming movies. I do not see a political, technical, or economical necessity to support Hollowood.

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  35. To be honest 16th is pretty bad considering that many countries don’t have access at all. Obviously there has to be some sort of Government involvement either through legislation or funding or both. The FCC has a lot to say in situations like this.

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  36. What is the relationship between faster broadband and economic growth? Is there a correlation and how do you determine whether its cause or effect?

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  37. I also really think these roadband plans”” don’t look too far forward.We all know that broadband is the way forward however like in the UK, They are happy with saying things like “”8mb for everyone””Yeah great and all, However by the time thats done, We will all need 100mb connections and its time to start again.Just look at some of the high end carrier routers from cisco.The throughput is immense, this is joust going to double.Gov’s need to re-think their plans and aim higher.Just my 2c”

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  38. You make a good point John, but good ol’ America isn’t top (or near the top) in pretty much anything except perhaps military. America ranks 37th in healthcare, education is ranked 19th (America’s graduation rate is 21st out of 27 industrialized countries), and dont get me started on America’s short term debt. So John, ranking 17th in the world with regards to high-speed internet connections isn’t so bad after all.

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  39. The uk broadband tax would never of worked, if BT and other companys dont want to splash cash, why should the users be taxed.

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  40. well i just made the switch for dial up tp broadband a couple years back. been pretty satisfied . can’t wait to see the next step

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  41. Here in the UK we have a ‘sort of’ policy. There is a commitment to broadband access for everyone but there are still places that have yet to be able to get it. And to get high speed broadband there will need to be a large scale upgrading of the network before it can be implemented.

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  42. The USA should not be ranked 17th in the world. As one of the most developed countries in the world, we should be in the top 3. We need to do something about this.

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  43. I love the idea of a national broadband system with lower prices and wider availability, but how much would something like that cost? Significant government involvement means more government spending.I think it’s a bit of an overstatement to say that our infrastructure is second class.”” It could definitely be quite a bit better when compared to the world leaders in the area, but again, those countries governments spend tons of money to make that happen.To be honest, I’d rather the government spend money on national broadband than half the stuff they spend it on now anyway.I guess my point is, we need to clear up some cash first.”

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  44. This should have happened ages ago. People really underestimate how much we actually NEED the internet for basically anything we do.

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  45. Thanks for the link!I really appreciate the idea of FCC to provide high speed Internet to almost every home in US. I also like that they have divided their goals into smaller goals and working towards it.

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  46. Full support to this. I mean, the Internet is the one of the main source, if not the absolutely MAIN source used nowadays to contact.

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  47. Wow this seems to be a very good idea. Everyone will benefit this national broadband system plan.The government got my support.

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  48. Interesting stats. Did not know we ranked 17th. I do say that yes a natinal standard on broadband is needed. Gonna follow this story and see if anything works out.

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  49. Communication through the internet is becoming more and more important as the years go by and Broadband is obviously the way to go so far.

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  50. This is an interesting article and the government have to get involved. Most people rely on high speed broadband and dial up is obsolete technology. Funding the project would be the biggest problem and a survey for the demand would be the starting point. Local governement could then role it out one district at a time to lessen the cost impact. The main point here is technology isnt slowing down its only getting faster and hopefully cheaper too.

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  51. The whole world is connected through internet today. It has now become the ‘Online World’. When all the countries are competeting each other in having internet availability everywhere, so why should we left behind? I am in favor of nationwide Broadband access plan and I think everyone should also be with me as there is no valid reason to stand in the opposition.

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  52. when we see other developing countries like Indonesia, they do not have a good broadband infrastructure because of the high cost of installing fiber optics and bandwidth. With all the limitations of the Internet network, a military defense system, they excel in human resources who are accustomed to war without broadband and similar technologies

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  53. Makes you wonder why this is only happening now but that is probably due to cost. I agree about having a national broadband plan but I don’t for the use of military applications. It would be much better to see every school, college and hospital have broadband access instead.

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  54. People like me that require broadband to work at home are held hostage by inferior service and bad connections. I live in a medium size city yet have no choice of providers. There is one service only. Knowing that, the provider does little to keep my business. Dial up is just not an option. My largest revenue loss is due to internet connection. A national broadband plan would be a major boost for the economy.

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  55. I am not sure 17 is that bad. I wish our education system ranked that high. Not to forget that the internet was first developed and use in a large scale deployment by DARPA. When the time comes, we do know what needs to be done, I am sure we’ll find a way to fast forward on broadband soon.

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  56. I agree with you Mike, as I work from home and in the office. I would work more from home if I had a better connection but because I live 10 miles from the exchange my broadband quality is very poor. Also I had a problem with my home phone number which I took out with my broadband supplier as a package”” they refused to change it even though I was being bombarded with unwanted calls. Because I signed a 12month contract I didnt have a choice but to pay for the change myself. A national broadband plan is a great idea but with healthy competition to keep the prices down and customer service up”

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  57. American will use any means to control the world. without Broadband Plan also, Americans will be able to do so.

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  58. even countries like India should have high benchmarks for broadband services.companies are now trying to increase the minimum broadband speed to 512 Kbps and some are pushing for 2 Mbps…..

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  59. A national broadband plan is a nice idea. Well it will increase the broadband speeds and reduce the internet costs. This will make sure even people with low incomes get to use the internet and grow with the world. Nice idea! I think this idea should also be introduced in other countries!

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  60. faster isnt always necessary – I can do perfectly well on my 2Mb/sec connection thank you – but then again I dontspend all day downloading videos or dodgy sofwtare!

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  61. FCC’s vision is definitely having potential to make U.S. military no. 1 in the world.It is also going to be path breaking success for US Schools, Libraries, and many other institutions which are dealing in spreading information across the world for noble cause and heavily dependent on Internet for growth.

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  62. As we access benefit to ever faster broadband speeds, the relationship between businesses and their employees, customers, and partners is dramatically altered. More than 80% of 18- to 24-year-olds participate in some of social networking. we need this this its very great idea i love it.

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  63. What the next for the National BroadBand Plan? I think its Depends on 1. whether carriers can buy enough influence to keep their status quo and 2. Whenever the stunted American mind can actualise a possible greater than a opportunity to click Chatroulette.

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  64. I guess its needed a national broadband plan. Why not? Everybody needs a better connection

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  65. From an organizational point of view, national broadband is a key driver to business transformation domestically and to global competition worldwide. National broadband plan definitely is an unavoidable milestone.

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  66. No country can do without a national broadband supporting business development and date exchanges domestically and competitiveness worldwide.

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  67. High speed connection is really necessary but i think a 2 mb ps connection a quite good for surfing but in case of conferencing and other high data transfer really need large scale network upgradation for a better communication

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  68. I agree that a faster connection is not always the answer. Lower internet costs will make the internet a more democratic place”””^0^1^^^0^0
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  69. know that broadband is the way forward however like in the UK,

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  70. That’s nice. We will have a bigger speed.

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  71. Its nice to see that there is a separate plan for each category such as Education, Public Safety, etc.

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