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Q&A With Cisco's Mike Volpi

Is Cisco Systems an arms broker in the potential bandwidth-blocking war between established service providers and new players like Vonage Holdings? During the recent National Cable & Telecommunications Association show in San Francisco, Advanced IP Pipeline editor Paul Kapustka sat down with Mike Volpi, the senior VP and GM of Cisco's routing technology group, to get his thoughts on whether or not technology should be used to stifle open networks (for the record, he says it shouldn't), and what regulators can do to help the U.S. improve its currently sub-par record in the area of broadband deployment.

Advanced IP Pipeline: When you talk to cable customers about things like Voice over IP infrastructure, are they looking for something to solve their problems right now, or more for the future?

Mike Volpi: A little bit of both. There is a competition that occurs between a cable operator and a Bell operating company in terms of speed and pricing of their [Internet] services. A lot of competition has been along the axis of speed -- and with increased speeds, there's more load on the network, so [customers] upgrade both at the edge and the core, and that definitely drives a fair bit of purchases today.

They're also increasingly competing on new applications or services -- VoIP versus classic telephony. When they compete from that angle, that creates opportunity [for Cisco].

The vision we convey to cable operators is that an IP-based infrastructure is a great coverged platform, in that with one IP network you can deliver voice video, and data over the same network infrastructure. You get better efficiences, and [can] invent new applications that blur the boundaries of classic telephony, video and voice.

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