Cisco’s Born-Again Consumerism


charlie giancarloBusiness 2.0: Cisco Systems’s (CSCO) chief technology officer, Charlie Giancarlo, sat down with me for a wide-ranging chat about consumer technologies, including voice-over-Internet protocol, the iPod’s impact on digital devices, and, of course, the ever-increasing need for bandwidth inside our homes. Giancarlo, who also heads up Cisco’s Linksys division, believes that large companies need to learn to adapt to consumers.

I think 100 megabits per second into the home is a given if we want more HDTV channels on our IP connections. Inside the home, 1 gigabit per second is going to be necessary as we move those big video and audio files around. In a decade or so, I expect that gigabit wireless would be cheap enough as well.

Here are some excerpts from that interview….

Bonus links, Charlie talking about Wireless on the Cisco website:I don’t see wireless replacing wired networks at any time. As valuable as wireless is, bandwidth limitations prevent it from being able to handle the heavy traffic demands of many larger businesses or demanding users.


Om Malik


thanks for that. i have not watched 24 for so long, that I almost forgot about it. I know Cisco used to be on Alias but not lately.

John Battelle

Cisco’s consumer focus is apparent to anyone who is watching “24” – the product placement is everywhere. (The show, of course, is simply terrible now, which is too bad).


Apps that are bandwidth hogs TODAY:

P2P “Anything”
Streaming HDTV (ala H.264)

Om Malik


you make a great point. I personally think we haven’t come to that equilibrium where applications can consume as much bandwidth as we can. I think that is going to be the most crucial thing to watch in years to come. I think video is a good start, but we need to go beyond that. Torrents in today’s form are not the most optimal solution, and I think entreprenuers need to step-up with apps that are bandwidth hogs.

Alex Rowland

Bandwidth is just like processor cycles. memory, and storage capacity. Every year people seem to say that we’ve finally reached the point of diminishing returns. “There is no reason to add more of X, we’ve already got all we need right now.” And yet every year new applications spring up and suck up every last bit of excess capacity.

I was having an discussion with my partner about the tradeoff between bandwidth and processor cycles and bandwidth and storage, etc. The general idea being that as bandwidth increases, you need less storage, and as processor cycles increase, you need less bandwidth due to more efficient compression. And yet somehow, even with these cumulative efficiencies, we’re still hungry for more.

My conclusion is that while diminishing returns are real, nobody cares. The price drops so fast that we just buy the upgrade and fill the capacity, whatever it is. It’s not as much about the underlying economics; at a macro level, it’s about human nature. We always want more.

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