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Cisco Calls on Congress and FCC to Provide More Spectrum for Broadband

Doug Webster – Cisco’s VP of Marketing for Service Provider Routing, Video, and Mobility – testified yesterday in front of the Senate Commerce Committee on trends in mobile data, highlighting Cisco’s Visual Networking Index and the need for more spectrum for broadband.  The following is the text of Doug’s opening statement:

“Good afternoon.  Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.  Mr. Chairman and members of the committee:  we are in the midst of an absolute avalanche of mobile data.

I’m here representing Cisco Systems, the world’s leading networking company, which has unparalleled insight to network data traffic.

Every year, we at Cisco comb through the data, look for emerging trends, and share our forecast and predictions through our annual Visual Networking Index, or VNI.

In our latest forecast, Cisco predicts that in 2017, mobile data in the United States will be 687 times greater than it was in 2007.  Think of that, 687 times the volume of mobile data traffic compared to just six years ago.

And the growth shows no sign of abating.

Five years from now, there will be nine times as much mobile data traffic in the U.S. than there is today.  More email.  More apps.  And, especially, more video, which by 2017 will represent two-thirds of all mobile traffic.

The question is:  are we prepared for this avalanche?  Can our current network infrastructure handle the massive growth that is coming?

The answer, of course, is no.     Imagine the Washington Beltway at rush-hour.  That’s basically what wireless networks are today.  Sometimes open road; but frequently congested, especially at peak hours.

Now imagine adding 50% more traffic to the Beltway each year for the next five years – a nine-fold increase.  You’d get grinding gridlock, with major delays… frustration, anger, and a major loss of productivity.

Mr. Chairman, that’s precisely what will happen if Congress and the FCC don’t act to address the looming spectrum crunch.

Now, how did we get to this point?

Just a few years ago, mobile data traffic was at relatively low levels, the product of a handful of text messages, mostly by our teenagers.

Fast forward to a few years later.  Each of us has multiple mobile devices connected wirelessly to the internet – smartphones, tablets, laptops, video streaming devices, smart TVs and gaming consoles.

And the devices will continue to proliferate — in just a few years, we forecast that that there will be 8 devices for every American.

Not only do we send email and text messages constantly, but we’re watching massive amounts of video – from short clips of our children’s first steps to entire feature-length movies on hand held devices.

Taken as a whole, this change has really transformed mobile data traffic, with profound implications for technology policy.

Last week, Cisco released our latest VNI forecast, and the hard data show that there’s simply no stopping the growth. We’ve become attached to our mobile devices and have integrated them into our daily lives.

So what should policymakers do now to ensure that we have the infrastructure and investment in place to meet this demand?

Put simply, more licensed and unlicensed spectrum must be allocated for broadband access.  To return to our Beltway metaphor, adding spectrum will add more lanes for traffic, widen lanes which today are too narrow, and create more on-ramps, off-ramps, and feeder roads to reduce bottlenecks.

Congress’s authorization of Voluntary Incentive Spectrum Auctions in 2010 was a critical first step on the licensed side of the equation.  And on behalf of Cisco, I want to thank you for taking that meaningful action.

Now, thanks to this committee, the FCC is studying potential expansion of Wi-Fi in the 5 gigahertz band.  The FCC is conducting an analysis of whether additional sharing for commercial purposes is technically feasible.  We hope that this analysis can be completed as quickly and thoroughly as possible, to help increase broadband speed and adoption.

This is increasingly important, given that approximately 50% of all data moves over Wi-Fi or mobile networks, and given that Wi-Fi helps alleviate pressure on licensed cellular networks.

The bottom line is this:

The mobile revolution is here.  It’s changing the way we communicate… the way we analyze data… the way health care, education, government and public safety services are delivered.

And it’s creating new American jobs and economic growth every day.  As if you need more reason to act, studies show that doubling mobile data, results in a 0.5% increase in the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, growth which is necessary now more than ever. (Deloitte)

It’s imperative that we address the looming spectrum crunch here in the United States and allow providers to invest private dollars in network infrastructure.

This will help ensure that the United States remains at the cutting edge and continues to be a global leader when it comes to mobile technologies.

Thank you again for the opportunity to appear today.  I look forward to your questions.”

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Statement on the Senate Judiciary Committee Passage of Immigration Bill

The immigration bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last night represents a major step forward on high-skilled worker reform.  Our nation has a strong culture of immigration, and we need to do more to encourage, the best, the brightest, and the most ambitious minds from around the world to live and work in this nation, driving innovation and creating jobs.

The legislation will accomplish these goals by significantly reducing  the green card backlog and by providing a workable solution on H1B visas.

Great thanks to Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and Senator Chuck  Schumer of New York for their perseverance in reaching this agreement. Cisco will continue to work with members of the Senate and House to ensure that the final legislation works for the high tech industry and our employees.”

Broadband for Development: Taking it to the Next Level

The United Nation’s (UN) Broadband Commission for Digital Development has clearly demonstrated the link between broadband and achieving the UN’s eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The UN set out these important goals for global development in 2000 with a target for 2015. With one thousand days left, it is time to focus on what is next.

Today the UN Broadband Commission outlined the importance of broadband and urged the UN’s High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons in an open letter to include broadband as they develop the UN’s post-2015 development agenda.

The Broadband Commission is led by chairs and co-chairs, Hamadoun Toure (Secretary-General of the ITU), Irina Bokova (Director-General of UNESCO), Paul Kagame (President of Rwanda) and Carlos Slim (CEO of Grupo Carso).

This is a major step in the right direction to increase the awareness and importance of broadband to global development, especially for the billions of people in the developing world.

 Broadband and the MDGs (from the “State of Broadband 2012” report)

Broadband and the MDGs

Statement on New FCC Proceeding on Spectrum

“In opening this new proceeding, the FCC will conduct a rigorous and technical examination of whether Wi-Fi technologies can successfully use spectrum that is not in use today without causing harmful interference to existing, or future, radio systems that operate in the same frequency block.  This is of critical importance to U.S. consumers and businesses because Wi-Fi usage is simply exploding due to the widespread adoption of smartphones, tablets and laptops. Cisco data reveals that, by 2016, more than half of all IP-based traffic will traverse a Wi-Fi network.  Wi-Fi at the edge of fixed and mobile networks has become a critical broadband access technology.

“Cisco is grateful for the opportunity to engage in a process that elevates the technical examination to the forefront, ahead of any final determinations on the use of the spectrum.  If the technical issues can be satisfactorily resolved, it could lay the foundation for innovative new applications and technology by making available  up to 200 MHz of spectrum for Wi-Fi networks and devices, as well as improving existing access to 5 GHz.”

Privacy and Security in the Age of the Internet of Everything

Cisco today released an important new report on the intrinsic and economic value of the transition to the Internet of Everything.  The study, entitled “Embracing the Internet of Everything to Capture Your Share of $14.4 Trillion,” details major market-making opportunities for business and industry over the next decade.   The report concludes that advances in technology and innovation will put $14.4 trillion of value at stake through the combination of increased revenues and lower costs over the next 10 years. That’s a shift worth noting.

For me, the big takeaway is that we are entering a new wave of disruptive innovation, which will drive an increase in productivity and another round of the disintermediation of markets. This furthers an economic and technological march we have been on since before the industrial age. It is significant. It is global.  And it’s happening now.

It also impacts some areas very much in the public discussion today.  Among them:

  • Next generation manufacturing, efficiency, quality, and what this next phase means for the competitive advantage of nations;
  • Health care, and how better health care and efficiencies are captured by the transition, as well as what it means for patients and doctors;
  • The environment, and the reliability benefits, efficiencies and carbon reductions that arise from smart grid and networked commercial vehicle fleet management;
  • Retail trade, and the use of mobility and consumer preferences to deliver more value; and
  • Human capital, and the benefits that mobility and process productivity means to a global workforce.

In essence, these shifts have already begun, and the clock is running.  The challenge for each player and each sector of the economy, globally, is to understand what these shifts mean, and decide how and where they play.

The report also notes that for many of these shifts we need to get privacy and security policy right. At the front end, companies and industries undergoing these shifts need to build privacy and security thinking, processes and relationships in up front, and capture the benefits of this next wave of economic transition.

The way this happens is to get in front of the issue, understand the implications of what you are doing, have a reasoned, thoughtful, principled approach, and do your best to get buy-in from all of the stakeholders involved. Over the years, a great deal of thinking has gone into privacy and security policy, but it is evolving, and developing policies need to recognize these new market-by-market shifts as well.

We also know that across the markets in this new transition, one-size does not fit all. Each of the use cases set out in the paper (manufacturing, health care, retail, transportation, etc.) occur in separate markets, affect different players, relate to different types of information, and have separate regulatory environments. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the players in each of these markets to see around corners and include thinking, planning and process to ensure that privacy and security are an integral part of these market transitions as this $14.4 trillion of market value develops.

At Cisco, we look forward to joining with you in that journey. Market transitions are important things. Let’s get it right.