The internet is a human right and governments should play a role in stimulating its rollout to every corner of the world.
That is the view of Carlos Dominguez, technology evangelist and incidental adviser to global leaders. In Melbourne last week for Cisco Live 2013, Mr Dominguez, senior vice-president at Cisco, said that given the transformative potential of the internet for prosperity, education and health, it was "absolutely critical" for developed countries to drive faster infrastructure development.
"John [Chambers, Cisco chief executive] and I have met with presidents from every country. Fifteen years ago, we had to convince people there was a link between the internet and productivity growth - at that point it wasn't clear. It's not like that any more," he said.
"The internet is giving equality in education and healthcare in ways we've never seen before."
While he said he was "not smart enough" to comment on Australia's national broadband network and government policies, Mr Dominguez said the internet was changing economic status.
"If you don't have access to it, you are at a major disadvantage. In many ways, the delta between the have and the have-nots is bigger - because of what you can do when you have the internet."
He said governments could always play a role in stimulating the competitive environment to drive commercial deployment but in some cases it was necessary to do more.
"If I was in charge, I'd drive it, it's good for the country ... I'd be trying to drive as much infrastructure as possible, both on the wired side and the mobile side."
He said rapid developments in consumer technology, hardware and software meant demand for services was running ahead of what the infrastructure could deliver.
"Imagine having a Ferrari and having to drive on a dirt road - you really don't realise the potential."
He said the argument over the methods used for the rollout - fibre-to-the-premise versus fibre-to-the-node plus copper and/or wireless, satellite - was almost immaterial. "The secret here is trying to architect how to get the right outcome. For the infrastructure, what I would say [is] whatever it takes to make it happen should be a priority."
The deployment of Australia's NBN is at a crossroads, with the government-backed NBN Co pushing ahead with the rollout of a $37.4 billion network that promises fibre to 97 per cent of premises.
Should the opposition win the coming federal election, however, there might be a rethink using existing copper and other technologies.
Telsyte research director Foad Fadaghi said while Cisco could clearly articulate a vision of the internet future, as an organisation it provided a few pieces of the puzzle, not all of them. He said: "The challenge for Cisco is to provide more than just the switches and routers and become a more integrated organisation to facilitate their vision."