Reliability, Regulatory Policies Critical to Internet Expansion

ISOC Experts Envision Broadband in 2020
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Broadband carriers will continue to be "successful" so long as they can maintain a "much more reliable underlying infrastructure," predicted Martin Levy, head of Network Strategy at CloudFlare. He also said he foresees "permission-less innovation" coming from Internet technologies that springs forth without necessary authorization from previous platforms.

Levy's remarks came during a forward-looking session of policy-centric experts at an Internet Society (ISOC)/D.C. chapter examination of the next five years of Internet development. Levy insisted that the value of continually evolving services and applications depends on an "ever more reliant" network. He emphasized that such reliability is "fundamental" and must persist even as "new hardware and new standards" enter the arena.

CloudFlare is a global content delivery network and virtual DNS provider, focused on improving the efficiency and security of online sites.

William Dutton, who heads the Quello Center at the Michigan State University (and former director of the Oxford Internet Institute), warned that "inappropriate piecemeal regulatory models" pose a great threat to future wired and wireless broadband services.  He cautioned against adapting policies from old regulations for broadcasting, telephony, postal service and other categories.

"We must come up with a more appropriate model for regulating the Internet," Dutton said.  But he stopped short of specifying the extent of necessary regulation or any possible models.

The five panelists -- each focused on a different aspect of possible Internet policy -- agreed optimistically that Internet services will continue to expand and become integrated with other life experiences.

Leslie Daigle, a consultant at ThinkingCat Enterprises and previously ISOC's first chief Internet technology officer, characterized the major challenge as figuring out how to apply technology "without restrictions" as well as building platforms that can support "anyone's ideas."

Daigle has written extensively on "permission-less innovation," encouraging technology developers to draw (within legal limits) from previous platforms to create new services and applications.

Michael Walker of the Information Innovation Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) focused on "differential access to data," especially systems that enable service providers to handle data without actually having access to the details within data files. Walker emphasized this capability as an essential element of Internet "reliability."

Similarly, privacy is a key factor "that will still be with us in five years," Paula Bruening, senior counsel for global privacy policy at Intel, said.

"It's not a balancing act or a trade-off," Bruening said, emphasizing that security and innovation rely on the assurance of privacy in Internet activities. She called it "the ability to operate in a pervasive environment" where services are always seeking "user consent" and insisted that "privacy engineering" should be considered throughout the development process.

Despite the policy focus of the ISOC/D.C. chapter meeting, the panelists deliberately eschewed pending policy issues, such as the net-neutrality battle, and shook off marketplace skirmishes, such as the recent Cox Communications challenge against Google Fiber coming to Tempe, Ariz.

Nonetheless, the speakers delivered a vivid array of issues that will keep policy makers (and technology lobbyists) busy for the rest of this decade -- and probably well beyond.

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