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Show Report: Vint Cerf on Regulation

This morning at the NGN Conference, I'm sitting in on the keynote presentation by none other than Mr. Vint Cerf, daddy of the Internet (OK, co-designer of TCP/IP), where he's expected to talk on telecommunications regulation...a topic befitting the day after our presidential election. What follows are my notes from this keynote. Actually, this time out, I think I'll post the most memorable quotes and thoughts.

"To understand the Internet, you must look at it from the side to see the layers--looking down from the top conflates all functions into one solid mass. The regulatory world sees the Internet from the top down."

Presently, we regulate via silos:

  • title ii wireline telephony
  • title iii wireless telephony
  • title iii broadcast, radio, TV
  • title iv cable television

Side note: Apparently Vint made t-shirts stating, "IP On Everything." Note to self: check eBay for said shirt.

Quote: "So we have an Internet that says I don't care what's deployed within my packets. The packets themselves don't care. That is so counter to this vertical view, it's now time to re-open discussions on this whole concept of regulation."

Yochai Benkler's proposed regulatory system looks like so:

content layer
logical/code layer
physical layer

MCI is open to reinvestigating this, but is suggesting a four layer model:

content/transactions layer
apps layer
logical network layer
physical network layer (transport/access)

Quote: "If you're concerned about content, and you wish to regulate that content, you shouldn't regulate all the way down to the wire level. That's unnecessary and potentially damaging."

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