Net neutrality will put U.S. behind Europe, Cisco's Chambers argues

Cisco wants carriers to be able to sell specialized services

Former Cisco Systems Chairman and CEO John Chambers

Cisco Executive Chairman John Chambers putting his money into drones

Credit: Stephen Lawson/IDG News Service

U.S. net neutrality rules will help Europe take the lead in broadband, Cisco CEO John Chambers says.

The regulations approved last week by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission will slow down broadband deployment, Chambers said at Mobile World Congress on Tuesday. Instead of focusing on net neutrality, the government should aim for more available broadband, he said.

"Sometimes, if you're not careful, your regulatory goals can slow down your end goals," Chambers said. He praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying she's kept Germany focused on fast Internet access for every citizen. The U.S. led in the Internet era until about 2010 but in a few years will be behind the major European countries, India and China, he said.

Merkel has spoken out in favor of two-tier Internet service with a special lane for high-priority uses, according to news reports. The comments by Chambers echoed concerns that Nissan and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn voiced on Monday at the show. Ghosn said net neutrality could prevent service providers from supporting applications like automated vehicles and remote medicine. The full text of the FCC rules has not yet been made public.

Cisco is betting on specialized services to sell networks with advanced capabilities, especially for the Internet of Things. In a press conference at MWC, Chambers promoted his company's efforts in virtualization and cloud computing, including data analytics.

Cisco is using the show to launch Mobility IQ, a SaaS product that lets enterprises and service providers view and analyze information about mobile use.

Mobility IQ can combine data about cellular and Wi-Fi activity in a given location, which can help in optimizing networks and marketing to mobile users. Ten Cisco customers are using it now, the company says. The service runs on Intercloud, the collection of cloud data centers that Cisco announced with partners last year.

At MWC, Mobility IQ is monitoring mobile device use in the Fira Gran Via, the convention center where the show takes place, which spans 240,000 square meter (2.6 million square feet). The service is collecting data including the number of devices in use, peak traffic times and where visitors are entering the venue.

The information can be collected and displayed in real time, viewable on a simple Web portal, Cisco says.

Chambers said Cisco was late to the game on SDN (software-defined networking) but has led from the beginning on NFV (network functions virtualization), which is a hot topic at the show this year. NFV takes functions that used to live in specialized appliances and turns them into applications that can run on generic hardware or in the cloud. Cisco has 49 VNFs (virtualized network functions) completed and claims its nearest competitor has only 10.

On Monday, VMware introduced vCloud for NFV, which is designed to run VNFs from other vendors and now supports more than 40 of them, according to VMware.

Both traditional telecom and enterprise vendors are vying for the chance to transform carrier networks with cloud and virtualization. At the show, Cisco announced it's working with Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia and other customers.

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