Distinguished Lecture - Internet Policy: Competition, Spectrum, Access and Technology Transition

Henning Schulzrinne
Julian Clarence Levi Professor, Department of Computer Science and Department of Electrical Engineering
Columbia University
TECH Center 111
Friday, October 27, 2017 - 11:00
Internet policy makers are facing a common set of challenges, colored by the specific legal and political circumstances in each country or region. I will highlight some of the hard problems that need to be addressed:
  • From the 1980s to recently, either multi-modal competition (cable vs. DSL, say) or unbundling provided standard policy tools to encourage competition. Often, these policies could essentially leverage the fact that carriers could not predict the usage of their outside plant when they built it. However, the emergence of fiber and hybrid-fiber networks, as well as LTE and 5G, makes these policy tools less attractive.
  • Until fairly recently, new applications could find new spectrum niches, possibly abandoned by older applications. These opportunities are harder and harder to find, particularly at trans-national scale. Thus, sharing and peaceful coexistence among neighbors become far more important.
  • Broadband has become as necessary as water and electricity for most households. Providing access to low-density areas and to low-income populations remain challenging, particularly if public support is to be effective and efficient.
  • Access also enables people with disabilities to enjoy functionally-equivalent communication, both amongst similarly-situated individuals and with people who can hear or see, businesses and government agencies. Relay services, text-to-911, real-time text and closed captioning not only support functionally-equivalent communication, but can also create new modes of universal communication.
  • Finally, reaching emergency services via 9-1-1 or 1-1-2 remain key public services. How can we move these services from the TDM era to an all-IP environment, at reasonable cost and with improved reliability?