The FCC, acting on a petition from the hotel industry, has begun an interesting debate: when or whether hotels (or in principle, other enterprises) could ever block Wi-Fi on consumers’ personal devices, like smartphones.
For the record, Cisco’s view is that — absent a security threat, attack, or other compelling interest — enterprises should not block personal Wi-Fi hotspots to promote their commercial interests, or for other purposes.
However, in limited cases where there is a significant security threat, attack or other compelling interest, enterprises should be able to defend their network, data and devices. We should be clear: the mere presence of personal hot spots at a facility does not represent a security threat or interest.
As with any issue involving technology, there’s a lot of confusion over what the issues and facts are.
Let’s take a look at the facts:
1. Under federal law, no one entity “owns” or “controls” access to unlicensed airwaves. Consumers can use unlicensed airwaves (on devices that have been certified for use by the FCC) wherever they want, whenever they want. As Wi-Fi “hot spot” capability is added to our smartphones, this is becoming much more common and is great for consumers.
2. Enterprises, particularly those which are open to the public or where the public is routinely invited, are increasingly installing their own managed Wi-Fi networks for the use of the visiting public, their own operations, or for other customers, such as businesses that lease space on a convention floor. And this development, too, is great for consumers and great for our economy, enabling business to get done at Internet speed.
Now, the wonderful thing about Wi-Fi is that everyone can use it, and, especially with blazing-fast new technologies such as IEEE 802.11ac, there’s plenty of capacity for all to share.
Consequently – as a general rule — enterprises should not block access to personal hot spots as a routine matter. Using security technology to shut down Wi-Fi signals that are not a threat to the co-located network is a bad practice that Cisco does not support.
In our filing at the FCC, Cisco asked the FCC to declare that “the mere presence of a personal hot spot or ad hoc client does not constitute a security threat in any venue or physical location where the public is routinely present or invited. “ This is consistent with our view that everyone should have the expectation of using unlicensed airwaves on FCC-approved devices.
But what if the enterprise’s managed Wi-Fi network comes under cyber attack, such as a denial of service attack by another Wi-Fi transmitter or a “honeypot” where the enterprise’s own client devices are lured away by an unmanaged access point for nefarious purposes?
What if some bad actor uses Wi-Fi technology to attack the enterprise’s Wi-Fi network, its data or devices?
Then of course, network administrators should be able to protect against such attacks. Making sure the enterprise network can operate in the face of an attack is beneficial – to the public as well as to the enterprise.
Additionally, there are other limited cases of enterprise regulation of Wi-Fi that should be allowed to stand. A hospital may not want Wi-Fi in portions of its facilities. An enterprise may have a secured lab or portions of a government facility may be “off limits” to consumer electronics, including Wi-Fi. Those are fair constraints, and the FCC should permit reasonable exceptions when there is a compelling interest, particularly in locations where the general public is not routinely present.
As Wi-Fi continues to become the leading form of Internet access, questions like this one will surely arise.
The FCC and interested parties must take steps to ensure that Wi-Fi continues to thrive for the benefit of consumers, businesses and the economy.
As a company with deep roots in the North Carolina community, Cisco will today present a $463,000 check to the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. This contribution is part of the Cisco’s 12th Annual Global Hunger Relief Campaign and reflects donations from more than 600 employees to the Food Bank, as well as matching funds from the Cisco Foundation and John Morgridge’s TOSA Foundation.
The donation will be presented today at a food sort at the Food Bank’s Durham branch, which will be attended by U.S. Congresswoman Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, Food Bank President Peter Werbicki, Food Bank Board Chairman Barry Barber, as well as three dozen Cisco volunteers.
Hunger is a silent tragedy, which affects more than half a million people in North Carolina every month. At Cisco, we’ve made fighting hunger a company-wide priority, and are incredibly proud of our longstanding support for the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. The work the Food Bank does is critically important in our community.
Helping Families in Need
Food insecurity remains a serious problem in Central and Eastern North Carolina. More than 651,000 individuals struggle to access nutritious and adequate amounts of food every year. One in 3 of these individuals are children, and 8 percent are elderly, and 30 percent of these households have at least one employed adult.
Established in 1980, the Food bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina is a nonprofit organization that provides food for people at risk of hunger in 34 counties. Last year, the Food Bank distributed more than 53 million meals to a network of more than 800 partner agencies such as soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters and programs for children and adults through 6 branches in Durham, Greenville, New Bern, Raleigh, Sandhills (Southern Pines) and Wilmington.
Cisco’s Global Hunger Relief Campaign
In addition to the direct donations, Cisco employees have volunteered more than 1,500 hours at the Food Bank. Cisco has proudly supported the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina since 1996, and is the single largest corporate contributor to the organization.
Tuesday’s event is just one part of Cisco’s annual giving campaign to help stop global hunger in Raleigh-Durham and around the world. This is Cisco’s 12th annual Global Hunger Relief Campaign, involving over 160 food agencies worldwide.
Since Cisco began our hunger relief campaign, we have raised more than $40 million dollars for hunger relief, which translates into nearly 160 million meals for those who need it most.
Today’s decision by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to increase funding for E-Rate represents a giant leap forward in fulfilling the goal of connecting every classroom in America to high-speed wireless Internet in the next five years.
This is a truly landmark decision, the effects of which will be felt for a generation. Not only will it spark more students’ interest in entering the fields that make up STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math – but it will also help make our students and our nation more globally competitive. And the nations that embrace the digital transition will lead the way in terms of job growth, innovation, and a stronger economy.
In the classroom, this decision will have a dramatic impact. It will put the power of the Internet in the hands of millions more students, giving them access to amazing videos, creative science experiments, and rich media content of all types. This will help transform our classrooms and help them be homes of discovery, inventiveness and intellectual exploration. Just as importantly, it will help connect students in rural areas, so that they have access to specialized courses that may not be offered locally.
The bottom line is this: E-Rate is the foundation of our nation’s efforts to connect schools and libraries to the Internet.
Under the leadership of Chairman Tom Wheeler, the FCC today has renewed the promise of the E-rate for this new generation of students and will help prepare them to be leaders in the innovation economy.
The multi-stakeholder Internet Governance process is safe from being replaced by a government-only top down process. At least for now.
The Internet as we know it has added huge social and economic value to the world as well as to our personal lives and is governed by a broad multi-stakeholder process including the private sector, technical community, academia, civil society as well as governments. Each group has an important role to play and the success of the process is due in large part to each doing what they do best and working together when and where appropriate. For example, technical issues are best left to the technical community while national security issues are primarily the domain of governments.
This multi-stakeholder, bottom-up, process is distinct from and in contrast to a multi-lateral process that only includes governments and their multi-lateral organizations. Internet governance broadly has been, and needs to remain, a multi-stakeholder process. It’s a proven approach that created the open Internet of interconnected network of networks in which anyone can access content and use applications from anywhere on the globe.
Earlier this month, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) concluded its important quadrennial Plenipotentiary conference in Busan, Korea, where the UN organization’s 193 member countries reviewed the ITU Constitution and Convention, elected its officials and set its agenda for the next four years.
Going into the Plenipot, there were concerns that some governments would use the meeting to impose the traditional top-down, government-led multi-lateral approach and counterproductive regulation to replace the bottom-up multi-stakeholder process. Some observers expressed their concern of a “UN takeover of the Internet.” Others were concerned that heavy handed and blunt regulation, which didn’t recognize the open and global architecture of the Internet, would fragment the Internet into national government controlled Intranets.
The good news is that none of the radical, dangerous or even just counterproductive proposals (such as regulating Internet routing) introduced in Busan survived the Plenipotentiary’s consensus-based process. In fact, the broad consensus acknowledged the importance of Internet governance processes and venues outside of the ITU while, at the same time, recognizing the important role the ITU plays, especially with respect to radio spectrum, capacity building, and working with emerging economies on development agendas.
This success was not by accident. It was the result of more than a year and a half of hard work and patient consultations among policy makers from governments around the world that are dedicated to the Open Internet and multi-stakeholder process. The US Delegation (including private sector, civil society and technical community members as well as government), led by Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda, played a key role in Busan, along with many like minded countries, building a consensus around the value of an Open Internet and the multi-stakeholder process. They changed the debate by understanding the importance of relationships and listening when working with other governments to address genuine concerns, while at the same time, building consensus to reject destructive proposals.
As successful as the Plenipot was, it’s not the end of the story. Governments that want to exert more control over the Internet and replace the multi-stakeholder process are not giving up. They are playing a long game and there are important international meetings in 2015 where they will try again. There is a lot of hard work and difficult discussions to come. But an important lesson learned from Busan is that successful diplomacy and policy through relationships, listening, collaboration and engagement, attributes like the Open Internet itself, can be a winning combination.
Tags: ITU, multi-stakeholder, open internet, Plenipotentiary
Cisco supports an open Internet and believes that the FCC should adopt balanced rules without imposing the draconian regulatory requirements known as Title II.
Heavy-handed regulation under Title II could significantly inhibit new investments in broadband networks and limit new innovation and business models.
Consumers should have access to all legal Internet content. But overly restrictive rules under Title II could limit consumer choice in new and innovative services such as telemedicine, distance learning, and emergency services. This would be a major mistake.
We urge FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to continue down the path he originally outlined earlier this year, which Cisco strongly supported in a letter to the FCC.
Tags: net neutrality, open internet, public policy