Cisco CEO: Consumers to drive Internet

Consumer use of the World Wide Web is growing to such an extent that 'Net access for all will be an issue in the US presidential campaign by 2004, if not before, according to John Chambers, president and CEO of Cisco Systems.

Speaking at the CeBIT exhibition here yesterday, Chambers predicted that home use, and specifically consumer devices attached to the Internet, would drive future Internet growth in what he defined as the Internet's "third phase" or the "consumer phase."

Home networking, which will connect refrigerators, microwaves, pianos, stereos and all manner of devices to the Internet, is going to be a reality very soon, Chambers said. In fact, PCs will be the minority device for Internet access in just a few years, he added.

In his speech, during which he walked up and down the aisles of the auditorium preaching his vision of the connected home, Chambers also boasted of Cisco's emergence as a force in the formation of the Internet economy. Once Cisco had difficulty gaining access to its customer's top IS management, but today Chambers meets routinely with government leaders and the heads of the world's largest companies.

"Three years we couldn't even meet with CIOs," he said. "Half of my visits on this trip [to Europe] were with presidents of large companies." Chambers' name-dropping included leaders of China and Singapore, who, he said, now understand the competitive benefits of the Internet.

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