The Internet's Coming of Age

Front Cover

What most of us know as "the Internet" is actually a set of largely autonomous, loosely coordinated communication networks. As the influence of the Internet continues to grow, understanding its real nature is imperative to acting on a wide range of policy issues.

This timely new book explains basic design choices that underlie the Internet's success, identifies key trends in the evolution of the Internet, evaluates current and prospective technical, operational, and management challenges, and explores the resulting implications for decision makers. The committee-composed of distinguished leaders from both the corporate and academic community-makes recommendations aimed at policy makers, industry, and researchers, going on to discuss a variety of issues:

  • How the Internet's constituent parts are interlinked, and how economic and technical factors make maintaining the Internet's seamless appearance complicated.
  • How the Internet faces scaling challenges as it grows to meet the demands of users in the future.
  • Tensions inherent between open innovation on the Internet and the ability of innovators to capture the commercial value of their breakthroughs.
  • Regulatory issues posed by the Internet's entry into other sectors, such as telephony.
  

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Contents

SETTING THE STAGE
43
Perspectives on Broadband
45
A Brief History of the Communications Infrastructure
47
What Has Changed Since the Mid1990s?
50
Broadband Deployment Trends
52
Reaching All Americans
54
Access Economics and Evolving Applications
57
Scope of This Report
60
Wireline Roadmap
136
Wireless Options
139
Mobile Wireless
142
Satellite
144
Wireless Roadmap
146
The Diverse Technology Landscape
148
Layering and Unbundling
149
Economics of Infrastructure Investment
152

WHAT IS BROADBAND?
62
Overview of the Technical Characteristics of Broadband
65
Latency and Jitter
67
AlwaysOn
69
Connectivity Sharing and Home Networks
71
Addressability
74
Controls on Applications and Content
75
Implications of Network DesignArchitecture
77
Approaches to Defining Broadband
78
BROADBAND APPLICATIONS AND CONTENT
82
Classes of Broadband Applications
83
Faster General Internet Access and General Internet Applications
84
Messaging
85
Games
87
Network Storage
88
Audio
89
CompressionQuality Tradeoffs
91
Specific Audio Applications
93
Video
98
The Mechanics of Video Delivery
102
Telepresence
103
Telemetry
105
Local Interest Content Including Video
107
Push Content
109
Internet Appliances
111
Distributed Work and Education
112
Telewebbing
113
Social Factors and Impacts of Broadband
114
Broadband Impacts
116
TECHNOLOGY OPTIONS AND ECONOMICS FACTORS
120
Essential Features of the Local Access Technology Options
121
Wireline Options
122
Hybrid Fiber Coax
123
Digital Subscriber Line
125
Advanced Wireline Offerings Fiber Optics in the Loop
129
Powerline
135
TakeRate Tyranny
153
Paying for Broadband
155
The Pace of Investment
158
Investment Risk Taking and Timelines
160
Uncertain Investment Prospects in the Private Sector
161
Investment Options for the Public Sector
162
Moores Law and Broadband
163
BROADBAND POLICY AND REGULATION
167
Policy Implications of Technological Change
171
Asymmetrical Regulation and Achieving Technology Neutrality
174
Competition
177
Unbundling and Resale Mandates
180
When Unbundling Works
182
Implications for Investment by Incumbents
184
Structural Separation
185
How Much Competition Is Enough?
186
Assessing the Degree of Competition
188
Open Access and Evolving Complements to FacilitiesBased Competition
189
Access Issues in Multidwelling Units
192
Access to Poles Conduit and RightsofWay
193
Expanding Access and Universal Service Policies
194
Implicit Transfer Mechanisms Used for Universal Telephone Service
197
Other Mechanisms for Increasing Access to Broadband
200
Tax Incentives
202
Vouchers
203
Research to Develop Technology Alternatives
204
Looking Forward
205
The Local Role in Broadband
206
BIBLIOGRAPHY
216
Broadband Technologies
245
A Brief History of Telecommunications Regulation
296
List of White Papers Received
307
Biographies of Committee Members
309
List of Acronyms
318
Copyright

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