Increasingly, consumers will be able to communicate with one another and access information across networks (wireless, wireless, broadband, satellite, etc.) in a seamless manner. According to some technologists, consumers will soon engage in widespread content and service shifting, accessing video programs stored on their digital video recorders (DVRs) from their laptops, receiving emails on their television set, and programming their DVRs from their mobile phones
To facilitate these and other innovations, technologists are developing a number of emerging technologies. These technologies include the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) (which supports multi-media applications across networks), multiple-mode phones (such as those that allow access to wi-fi networks where available and cellular networks where not), and ancillary terrestrial component (ATC) systems (which seamlessly integrate satellite and terrestrial wireless networks). In the midst of these technological changes, there are a number of questions about whether and how an integrated architecture will develop.
From a business perspective, the onset of network convergence could create significant opportunities both for the established network providers and independent applications developers. There are, however, a number of challenges in making this vision a reality. For starters, many carriers complain that the Internet rests on a fragile foundation–recall the Level 3/Cogent dispute over “peering”–and that current strategies have failed to develop sustainable approaches. More generally, many are concerned about whether open standards will enable consumers to switch between providers and whether applications will be largely dedicated to certain platforms. Finally, some question whether compelling applications will be developed at all and whether established firms will welcome independent firms (think Tivo and SlingMedia).
For policymakers, the emerging phenomenon of network convergence promises the death knell to traditional silo-based regulation. To date, for example, legacy approaches continue to follow new technologies–such as the requirement that Voice over IP (VoIP) providers offer E-911 access along the same lines offered by established firms. When VoIP conversations rely on wi-fi networks or TV programs are downloaded from the Internet and then transferred to a TV or another device, the effort to translate old rules to new technologies is bound to break down.
Welcome and Overview
The Technological and Business Realities of Network Convergence
Interoperability, Open Standards, and Applications Competition
- Rebecca Arbogast
Senior Vice President, Global Public Policy, Comcast Corporation
- Kathleen Ham
Senior Vice President, Govenment Affairs, T-Mobile
- Blair Levin
Fellow, Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program, Executive Director, Gig.U
- Tom Moore
Managing Director, TimesArrow Capital, LLC
- Tom Wheeler
Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
Regulatory Implications: The End of Silios?
- Steve Davis
Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Government Relations, CenturyLink
- Linda Kinney
Senior Vice President, Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)
- Jennifer Manner
Vice President, Mobile Satelite Ventures (MSV)
- Barry Ohlson
Legal Advisor, Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein