The Network Utility

Kevin D. Werbach

Legal Studies & Business Ethics Department, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

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

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Date posted: February 10, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Werbach, Kevin D., The Network Utility (January 29, 2011). Duke Law Journal, 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1758878

Contact Information

Kevin D. Werbach (Contact Author)
Legal Studies & Business Ethics Department, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania ( email )
3730 Walnut Street
Suite 600
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States
215-898-1222 (Phone)

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