I’ve been asked to join a panel at the Congressional Internet Caucus’ short conference on the State of the Mobile Net on April 23rd. I’ll be on the last panel:
What Policy Framework Will Further Enable Innovation on the Mobile Net?
Richard Bennett, [bio forthcoming]
Harold Feld, Public Knowledge [bio]Alexander Hoehn-Saric, U.S. Senate Commerce Committee [bio]
Larry Irving, Internet Innovation Alliance [bio]
Blair Levin, Stifel Nicolaus [bio]
Ben Scott, Free Press [bio]
Kevin Werbach, Wharton School of Business [bio]
I suspect we’ll spend the bulk of our time on the interaction between regulatory agencies, standards bodies, and industry groups. The case studies are how the process worked for Wi-Fi with the FCC opening up some junk spectrum, the IEEE 802.11 writing some rules, and the Wi-Fi Alliance developing compliance tests. In the UWB world, the model was a novel set of rules for high-quality spectrum followed by an IEEE 802.15.3a collapse and the subsequent attempt by the Wi-Media Alliance to save it. We probably will have UWB someday (wireless USB and Bluetooth 4.0 will both use it,) but the failure of the standards body was a major impediment.
With White Spaces up for grabs, we’d like to have something that’s at least as good as 802.11, but we really need to do a lot better.
Another topic of interest is whether mobile Internet access services should be regulated the same way that wireline services are regulated, and how we go about drafting that set of rules. The current state of the art is the 4 or 5 prongs of the FCC’s Internet Policy Statement, but these principles leave a lot to the imagination, as in all of the interesting questions about network management, QoS-related billing, third party payments, and the various forms of disclosure that may or may not be interesting.
The Internet is troubled by the fact that it’s worked pretty damn well for past 25 years, so there’s been no need to make major changes in its services model. It’s clear to me that some fairly disruptive upgrades are going to be needed in the near future, and we don’t want to postpone them by applying a legacy regulatory model to a network that’s not fully formed yet.