Georgetown School of Bussiness Hosts Panel: The Internet and Communications Regulation

The Georgetown University McDonough School of Business held a panel on June 10, 2014 titled “The Internet and Communications Regulation: A Policy and Technology Symposium,” covering policy points on Net Neutrality, the FCC, Internet infrastructure, and Title II classification for ISPs. Larry Downes, Senior Industry and Innovation fellow at the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy, introduced and moderated the panel. Blair Levin, Communications and Society fellow at the Aspen Institute offered opening remarks on the future of the internet including possible new infrastructure and effects of policy on ISPS. Patrick Gilmore, Chief Technology officer at the Markley Group gave a short history of the Internet and a brief explanation on how the Internet operates. Other panelists included Robert Atkinson, President of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, Jeffrey Campbell, Vice President of Cisco Government Affairs, and Brent Olson, Vice President of Public Policy of AT&T.

The panel, primarily populated by industry leaders who are well educated on Internet infrastructure quickly separated itself from the typical panels on Capitol Hill. In particular, Patrick Gilmore stood out as an engineer and technical insider of the Internet industry who could explain how the Internet worked on a technical level such as the role of peering and the nature of how data gets from the ISP to the consumer.

Panelists unanimously held the opinion that Title II reclassification by the FCC would be a disastrous direction for the industry. It was also agreed, that increased bandwidth availability would be helpful in solving issues within the Internet infrastructure. However, panelists did not agree on the methods for increasing bandwidth within the infrastructure.  Discussions included: whether or not the private market is truly self-correcting; will fiber rollout continue and continue to provide faster speeds; and disagreed on the predictability of Internet infrastructure innovation. 

No matter what the FCC rules in the coming months on Net Neutrality there is technically no such thing as Internet “, fast and slow lanes.”  This characterization is simply political jargon meant to cause dissention.