Telecommunications Policy Research Conference Opens Today at George Mason Law School

Broadband Data, FCC, National Broadband Plan September 25th, 2009

, Deputy Editor,

Editor’s Note: will be co-hosting a special session, with the Benton Foundation and the New America Foundation, on “The State of Broadband Data & Mapping,” immediately following dinner on Friday night at Telecommunications Policy Research Conference. See below for details. Information and Registration for TPRC.
WASHINGTON, September 25, 2009 – The annual Telecommunications Policy Research Conference, a must-attend event for academics focused on broadband-related topics, begins at Friday at 2 p.m. ET at Geoge Mason University School of Law in Arlington, Va. The conference continues on Saturday and Sunday, and is likely to be particularly noteworthy this year.

With the recent broadband stimulus plans, including grants for broadband, increased funding for health information technology, and the national broadband plan being developed by the Federal Communications Commission, the academic community will have the opportunity to weigh into these debates.

This conference, the 37th Annual Research Conference, is broken down into four distinct subtopics: Network Competition and Broadband Policy, Next Generation Internet and its Management, Spectrum Policy and Wireless Applications, Universal Access and ICT for Development, and Media, Digital Rights and Privacy/Security.

The Network Competition and Broadband Policy sessions revolve around how broadband policy differentiates globally. One noteworthy session is entitled “Broadband and FTTH” (for fiber to the home). This session brings together academics from Canada, Japan and the Netherlands to talk about how different nations have implemented fiber to the home using different approaches.

The case study from the Netherlands is expected to examine how municipal broadband networks affect local competition for broadband.

During the recent stimulus debate, many groups were pushing the government to focus the broadband stimulus on getting fiber to home. Some observed said that the United States has sufficient competition, and that the government becoming an internet service provider would not help the competitive landscape. Others said that without government involvement, existing ISPs would not be willing to invest in new infrastructure.

In addition to these four major topic blocks there are going to be a few overarching panels on innovation and infrastructure deployment.

The innovation panel on Friday evening is scheduled to include top Obama administration officials, including Susan Crawford, Special Assistant to the President for Science, Technology and Innovation; Blair Levin, who is leading of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan; and Beth Noveck, Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Open Government.

Their panel will explore how innovation policy is being guided by the administration and they key role that it has in the administrations agenda.

Also, a panel of broadband infrastructure deployment will not only focus on how broadband deployment should be undertaken but also on the socio economic benefits that it will bring to the nation.

Its participants include a wide range of experts, including Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, to James McConnaughey, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and Rekha Jain, Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. This group of government officials, academics and industry experts aims to provide a holistic look at the problems involved with broadband deployment and the solutions which have been implement from around the globe.

At lunch on Saturday,  conference will also include a special tribute to Clay “Tom” Whitehead, who passed away in July 2008, and was instrumental in the establishment of the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference.

Editor’s Note: Immediately following dinner of Friday night, all participants are welcome to stay for an informal discussion on the current state of braodband data and mapping issues. The NTIA’s broadband mapping grants to each state and territory – and particularly the larger national “roll-up” to be delivered online by NTIA and FCC – offers an unprecedented opportunity for researchers to both contribute and tap into new and more granular sources of data relevant to Telecom policy research. This session will be primarily an open discussion and brainstorm concerning the sources and uses of data that should be represented in the nation’s new broadband inventory. The national map/inventory will not be limited to state data collection – and FCC is welcoming input. The session is co-hosted by New America Foundation, Benton Foundation and Refreshments will be provided.

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