Understanding Disruptive Innovation: The Cases of Internet, Telecom, and Electricity

Tags: Technology Policy


Over the last thirty years, technological change has accelerated at an increasing rate, threatening established business models and upending whole sectors of the economy. In the case of telecommunications, the rise of wireless services and Voice over Internet Protocol, for example, have transformed what was once a monopoly service. More generally, Internet services have regularly developed in a “disruptive” fashion, undermining existing business models. And in today’s electric power sector, many analysts and commentators point to the rise of distributed energy resources such as rooftop solar, demand response, and storage, as a disruptive threat to prevailing regulatory and business models.

This conference will evaluate the increasing speed of disruptive innovation and its limits in these three sectors. In the telecommunications context, for example, there is still only limited competition in the last mile–notably, where broadband services to consumers and businesses do not face robust competition. And in electric power, questions remain whether the type of disruptive innovation seen in telecom–for example, the rise of wireless services–provides a useful analogy for understanding the changes currently taking place in that sector. By viewing these issues in comparative context, this conference seeks to shed light on the nature and limits of technological change in these three sectors, the role and potential limits of disruptive innovation, and the appropriate response for policy and regulation.


Welcome and Introduction
  • Phil Weiser
    Hatfield Professor of Law, University of Colorado Law School
  • William Boyd
    Associate Professor of Law, University of Colorado
Electric Power
  • William Boyd — Moderator
    Associate Professor of Law, University of Colorado
  • John Caldwell
    Director of Economics, Edison Electric Institute
  • Virginia Lacy
    Manager (Electricity), Rocky Mountain Institute
  • Joshua Epel
    Chairman, Colorado Public Utilities Commission
  • Diana Moss
    President, American Antitrust Institute

  • Phil Weiser — Moderator
    Hatfield Professor of Law, University of Colorado Law School
  • Dan Caruso
    Co-founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer, Zayo Group
  • James Feger
    Vice President - Network Strategy & Development, CenturyLink
  • Angie Kronenberg
    Chief Advocate and General Counsel, Comptel
  • Harold Teets
    Senior Vice President - Information and Network Technologies, tw telecom

Internet Services
  • Harry Surden — Moderator
    Professor of Law, University of Colorado Law School
  • Ryan McIntyre
    Managing Director, Foundry Group
  • Dan'l Lewin
    Corporate Vice President, Technology and Civic Engagement, Microsoft
  • Sarah Schupp
    Chief Executive Officer and Founder, UniversityParent
  • John Levisay
    Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Craftsy

Closing Panel: The Investment Perspective
  • Brad Bernthal — Moderator
    Associate Professor, University of Colorado Law School
  • James Linfield
    Partner, Cooley LLP
  • John Wallington
    Co-Founder and Managing Partner, UPC Capital Ventures, LLC
  • William Perry
    Venture Advisor, Infield Capital and Vision Ridge Partners
  • John Siegel
    Partner, Columbia Capital
  • Nicole Glaros
    Chief Product Officer, Techstars

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