The Network Utility
Kevin D. Werbach
University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School, Legal Studies & Business Ethics Department
January 29, 2011
Duke Law Journal, 2011
Fifty years ago, two great technologies, the telecommunications network and the computer, embarked on a collision course. Experts at the time speculated about a “computer utility” that would profoundly influence both business and society. Not long after, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began to grapple with this convergence of computing and communications. The FCC’s actions in the late 1960s and early 1970s shaped the future of both industries. Today, digitization and consolidation have erased old boundaries. The rise of remote network-based applications and storage, or "cloud computing," is shifting the balance in the data world from distributed edge systems to centralized networked platforms. Something very much like the old computer utility vision is coming back into focus. Now is the time to return to and update the FCC’s original convergence agenda. As the technical predictions of 1960s visionaries become real, the policy considerations they raised must also be taken seriously.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 62
Keywords: Internet, convergence, computer utility, Computer Inquiry, FCC
Date posted: February 10, 2011
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