International Internet Governance, Innovation & The International Telecommunications Union

34 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2012 Last revised: 8 Oct 2012

Date Written: October 1, 2012


The 19th Century telegraph and the 20th Century telephone are relatively simple mechanisms of communication. A single technology, widely deployed, with content supplied by its users. The Internet ecosystem is much more complex – bringing together divergent technologies of transmission (mobile and fixed), usage, storages, hardware and software – empowering very divergent forms of content, personalized on each device that is connected to the network of networks.

In December 2012, the International Telecommunications Union, an organization born to promulgate the international flow of telegraph traffic in the 19th Century, which evolved to regulate international traffic between telephone networks owned and/or regulated as monopolies in the 20th Century, will confront the quintessential 21st Century information technology: The Internet.

In so doing, it will consider a fundamental question: Is the regulatory regime designed for the international activities of the telegraph and the telephone the best form of governance over economic issues that impact the future of innovation on the Internet?

This paper contends that the answer to that question is “No”. Not because any dearth of legitimate issues that need to be confronted, nor because the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has failed in its legacy of telegraph and telephone regulation. But because the Internet ecosystem is not the analog of telegraphy and telephony.

Keywords: telecommunication, International Telecommunications Union, regulation

Suggested Citation

Sallet, Jonathan, International Internet Governance, Innovation & The International Telecommunications Union (October 1, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Jonathan Sallet (Contact Author)

Benton Foundation ( email )

727 Chicago Ave.
Evanston, IL 60202
United States
8473283040 (Phone)


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