10.0915 Technology Policy Working Group

Willard McCarty (willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Fri, 2 May 1997 20:03:52 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 10, No. 915.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

Date: Fri, 2 May 1997 08:34:29 -0400
From: David Green <david@cni.org>
Subject: NINCH ANNOUNCEMENT: Technology Policy Working Group

May 2, 1997

Call for White Papers
Pertaining to Technology Policy Issues
Related to the Telecommunications Act of 1996

Issued by the Technology Policy Working Group



The Technology Policy Working Group (TPWG) consistent with its focus to
identify NII architectural principles and strategies that promote
interoperability, scalability and the use and expansion of affordable
commercial technologies, is inviting white papers on technology policy
issues arising from the Telecommunications Act of 1996 referred herein as
the "Act."


White papers are specifically solicited from industry, academia,
government, standards organizations, and from foundations focused on the
telecommunication technology challenges confronting the Nation and what
may be done about them. Submissions may be made by electronic mail or on
paper and sent to the addresses indicated below. Papers must be received
by June 1, 1997 for consideration. While not a complete list, typical of
technology policy issues that have been noted and may be considered, are
the following:

o Impact on Fundamental Communications Research
o Decline in Knowledge Sharing
o Development of Technical Standards
o Internet Reliability
o Security and Privacy
o Impact of Regulatory Process on Technology
o Bandwidth to the Home

Submissions should be responsive to the primary goal of this call, i.e.,
focused specifically on technology policy issues related to the Act and
not on general policy related to the Act. These White papers will be
reviewed by the TPWG and some may be posted on its Web page. Further,
some will be selected for further discussion at future TPWG meetings.
Accordingly, all white paper submissions are deemed to include the
owner's permission for the TPWG to post the content of their papers.

ASCII text (or typed papers) are requested and it is suggested that the
maximum length be approximately 2000 words. Submissions must include the
name(s), positions, affiliations and complete contact information for the
white paper author(s).

Submissions may be made to one of the following addresses:

Electronic Mail:
Address submissions to <mpapillo@snap.org>
Please indicate it is a "TPWG White Paper Submission" in the Subject
block and use ASCII text in any attachments.

Conventional Mail:
Technology Policy Working Group Chair
C/O Defense Advanced Projects Agency
Information Technology Office
3701 North Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22203-1714

We thank you and look forward to your help on this call.



The TPWG is a working group of the Information Infrastructure Task Force
that was created in January of 1994. Its members are representatives of
Federal agencies, departments and organizations with extensive interest
and activities in NII technology. Its mission is to provide a forum to
address technology policy issues whose resolution would speed the
creation of the NII. Its focus is to identify NII architectural
principles and strategies that promote interoperability, scalability and
the use and expansion of affordable commercial technologies. A detailed
copy of TPWG's charter is available at:

The Working Group interacts with key industry groups and serves as an
instrument for industry to interact with government about NII technology
policy issues. Representatives of industry are asked to provide
briefings and white papers, to interact with the Working Group, to
comment on the group's agenda, to focus attention on issues of industry
concern and to suggest approaches to their solution.

At its last two meetings, the TPWG has discussed a number of technology
policy issues related to the Act. Some of the following technology
challenges associated with the Act that have been discussed are:


The Act will enable new companies to compete against the regulated
monopolies which have dominated the telecommunications sector. The growth
of competition is causing some companies to focus their research efforts
more to short-term profit opportunities and less on the types of
long-term research that has led to major technological breakthroughs.
There seems to be a decline in the contribution being made by some of the
largest telecommunications players to the development of advanced
communications technology.

The implications of this change in focus has been examined by the Council
on Competitiveness in their "Endless Frontier, Limited Resources"
report. Questions for the TPWG to consider are: Is this a problem? Who
will develop the breakthrough technologies in the future? Will
competition in telecommunications spur new investments in R&D? Should
government be playing a more active role? What is the role of industry
consortia, etc.? What is the role of universities?


There have been anecdotal reports that intense competition is leading to
a decline in industry participation in fora for sharing ideas. Some
leading technical societies are facing a decline in industry involvement
and volunteer participation because of increased competitive activity.
The reason suggested is that their key technical people are overloaded
and are focused on short-term research that cannot be comfortably shared
with others.

It seems that ideas are kept confidential for a longer period of time and
that increased workloads hinder volunteers from active society
participation. The question is: Is this a real issue and what can or
should be done about it?


The computer industry has benefited from rapid product evolution and de
facto standards while telecommunication standards have generally been set
by the de jure process. For example, the ISDN standard started in 1972
and took more than ten years to emerge. When it did, there were several
versions before Bellcore settled on a national ISDN standard. Will it
take as long to get agreement on uniformly accepted standards for
advanced technologies for asynchronous transfer mode (ATM), asymmetrical
digital subscriber line (ADSL), personal communications services (PCS),
for time-division multiple access (TDMA), for code division multiple
access (CDMA), or for the recent digital enhanced cordless
telecommunications (DECT) technology and other technologies brewing in
various laboratories? How will increased competition affect standards

Interface standards are necessary for interoperability. The question is:
Is there more that needs to be done to foster development of technical
interface standards as a result of the Telecommunications Act? Who are
the standards bodies coordinating these standards? Are they moving fast
enough? Who is responsible for the development of tests that
establishes conformance to standards and ensure interoperability? Is
there more that needs to be done? If so, what, and by whom?


The Internet, over the last ten years, has grown exponentially. It has a
life of its own - no one is in charge - and there is no real system
architecture. Instead, the Internet community governs itself. But will
self-governance of the Internet be able to deal with growing demands for
non-stop operations, higher quality of service, and growing concerns
about brown-outs, power failures or network vulnerabilities? Who will be
responsible for Internet reliability?


As the Telecom Act is implemented, single networks run by monopoly
carriers will be replace by a network of networks run by literally
hundreds of different companies. How can the security of the entire
system be assured? Who will be liable for breaches in security? How
will private data about customers be shared between companies and how
will the privacy of their communications be guaranteed, when a single
message might traverse different networks run by dozens of different
companies? What is the minimum level of security and privacy that should
be expected by the average user, be it an individual, a corporation or a
government agency? How will consumers define their needs? Who will be
responsible? Is there more that needs to be done and who should do it?


As it implements the Telecommunications Act, the FCC will make dozens of
critical regulatory decisions which will impact how technology is
developed and deployed. For instance, how will the FCC define universal
service and how will that definition impact technology directions over
the next 5 to 10 years? The goal is to accelerate not delay technology
development and to avoid favoring one technology at the expense of
another. How can this best be done? What role does regulation play in
encouraging R&D or deployment of new technologies? Are there specific
policies that deter innovation or should be changed to encourage innovation?


One goal of the Act is to bring new high bandwidth applications to the
home. It has been indicated that technology exist today to deliver these
applications to the home. The Act anticipates a migration from a voice
driven 64 Kbps tariff structure to future high bandwidth applications.
How soon will this happen? Are fiber, cable, and wireless the viable
alternatives for high bandwidth? What happens when these services can
economically be delivered to the home? When will this happen? What can
be done to avoid congestion on existing and planned networks?


Clearly, the issues outlined above are not a complete list of technology
policy issues arising from the Telecommunications Act of 1996. White
paper authors are invited to comment on any of these and to explore other
issues as well.