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The Network Utility

62 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2011  

Kevin D. Werbach

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

Date Written: January 29, 2011

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Internet, convergence, computer utility, Computer Inquiry, FCC

Suggested Citation

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

Kevin D. Werbach (Contact Author)

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

3730 Walnut Street
Suite 600
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States
215-898-1222 (Phone)

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