Internet Infrastructure and Regulation

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April 17

In this class, we will cover the politics, policy, economics and technology of deploying broadband infrastructure. We will look at the year-old US National Broadband Plan and the Berkman Center review of international experiences in broadband policy. Additionally, we will look at the substance and politics of the net neutrality debate.


Assignment 4 due


  • Executive Summary of the National Broadband Plan [1]
  • National Broadband Plan Commission Meeting: National Purposes Update, February 18th 2010 [2]
  • Next Generation Connectivity: A review of broadband Internet transitions and policy from around the world, Berkman Center [3]
  • Net Neutrality 101 [4]
  • More Confusion about Internet Freedom [5]
  • Hands Off the Internet [6]

Optional Readings

Class Discussion

April 17: Internet Infrastructure and Regulation Just Johnny 17:13, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

Interesting article in Slate that's basically a profile of "_why" (a well known programmer/sort of folk hero in that online community before he disappeared off the web one day) but also goes into the problem of of the "Little Coder's Predicament" quite a bit since that was one of the main things _why was interested in. That predicament is the lack of accessibility to the code behind the devices we use so often; it is incredibly easy and intuitive to play Angry Birds on your phone or use Excel on your laptop, but hard (and getting harder) to learn how to access and manipulate the code that creates and alters those sorts of programs.

This is an issue that has come up quite a bit in class, and I thought the author does a good job of explaining some neat tools for the layman to use to get into programming. The article is a fun read and touches on a lot of issues of public v. private online, identity online, the importance of being a creator and not just a consumer, etc. Thought you all might enjoy! -AlexLE 22:37, 16 April 2012 (UTC)

Off topic for this week's class but I saw this article hit the Washington Post and thought it was an interesting read for those interested in Copyright and internet sales. --Hds5 18:21, 16 April 2012 (UTC)

This week's readings brings up an interesting point on national safety. Government agencies other organizations could stand to do a better job notifying the public via the internet when national disasters arise. In times of disaster, notifying the public via internet alerts seems like a very efficient way to spread information quickly. -- [[ --Szakuto 11:57, 17 April 2012 (UTC)]]

This week’s articles were like always very interesting and thought-stimulating. I really enjoyed reading the first article concerning broadband and the US government’s plan back in 2009 to make it accessible to all Americans. Even though many criticized the fact that at the time 100 million Americans didn’t have broadband, we must not forget the huge improvements that took place in the last two decades. I personally grew up with no broadband and with a computer which would run Windows 3.1 so from the ‘80s until now I personally see a huge improvement and I believe it is just a matter of time that the whole world will have broadband and at that point a newer technology will become available. The second article was by far the most fascinating. I had recently watched a documentary on technological advances and healthcare, and how easy it would be to do most things via internet like sending results and interacting with doctors. For what concerns education, I believe we have started making some good progress only recently and not very many institutions offer online learning. Homeland Security is definitely the most important aspect which we should invest in, in my opinion and we are far behind many of our European and Asian colleagues. The third article is exactly what I was talking about in terms of future technological advancements and it explains both plans and practices of countries other than the United States. The article on Net Neutrality was also pretty interesting and it perfectly explained its purpose in a simplistic way, which is appreciated by someone like myself who isn’t exactly a computer expert. The article on Internet Freedom has a very amusing title and I must say it is perfect for that topic. I still think it is very difficult to talk about internet freedom and government intrusion and I believe we will still be talking about this in the near future. The YouTube video about Hands Off the Internet was again in my opinion an amusing and simple way of portraying and conveying a message and I believe this to be a good way of doing so. Overall Governmental intrusion is and will be a serious and durable debate in the future. Emanuele 13:36, 17 April 2012 (UTC)

The articles for this week certainly brings to light the relationship between the government and broadband providers, and government’s particular interests in expanding and regulating broadband. I found Thierer’s article on these regulations to be interesting, particularly when he indicates that “we shouldn’t allow the cyber-collectivists to sell us their version of “freedom” in which markets are instead constantly reshaped through incessant regulatory interventions.” It is always nice to see this age-old political argument spill over into broadband management. Certainly the government takes the internet seriously and I think that their overlying effort to make broadband accessible to everyone is noble back in 2009. As the internet has shaped our lives in many different ways, it would be hard to imagine having no access to the internet. I do agree with the point that the internet has certainly improved by leaps and bounds over the years.--Jimmyh 16:51, 17 April 2012 (UTC)

I agree with Emanuel, the Hands Off video and the Net Neutrality website explain in a very simple way what’s going on with the Internet; I enjoyed both of them. Also I think it is true that the Corporations and “Save the Internet” campaign want the government to take control of the Internet. The main net neutrality issues then are who should control the Internet: the people, or the government? And who should pay: the big corporations, or us?

The articles were also very interesting and touched important themes. The Broadband Plan article mentions that the broadband plan will improve the healthcare system, the energy and environment, and the education system. I think we have all experienced the benefits of improvements on technology, not too far our distance class is possible due to technology enhancement. As the article states, this creates economic opportunity, and government performance and civic engagement. With regard to the former, I like the idea that it would make the government more open and transparent! And with the latter that it will increase public safety and homeland security. In this way it is very important the broadband for mobile devices. Also it will ensure patients to have control over their healthcare data; I specially like this one because one day I went to have some health tests in my country and within a few days I could access them via the Internet.

The presentation on the Broadband Plan was very specific in showing the gaps that prevent the most efficient usage of the broadband. It also provided a framework of recommendations for each area in which broadband is used, and the potential savings achieved. Also, I like the idea that better technology will allow us to help prevent traffic accidents and potentially save energy. I think we still have a lot of work to do but in the long-term I’m positive these improvements will be possible.

Finally, in the Berkam Center article, it is very interesting the approach used, in which learning from other countries like Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Sweden, Japan and South Korea was the center of the study. What I most liked from this article was the idea that the next generation broadband user experience is built upon not only the deployment of high capacity networks, but also the creation of ubiquitous seamless connectivity. This is because we are now experiencing more availability of connectivity, but quality, speed and more places with Wi-Fi are still matters of improvement.Fabiancelisj 17:10, 17 April 2012 (UTC)

Links from Class