ISOC Pres. Lynn St Amour to address FCC Open Internet Workshop 1/13/10

Lynn St. Amour, President of the Internet Society, has been invited to provide framing remarks at the upcoming FCC Open Internet Workshop on Innovation, Investment, and the Open Internet tomorrow, Wednesday, January 13 at 16:30 EST (23:30 UTC) at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

ISOC-NY Members are encouraged to contribute to the discussion.

Lynn’s remarks are filed here and are transcribed below:

Remarks by Lynn St.Amour, President & CEO Internet Society
Federal Communications Workshop
Innovation, Investment, and the Open Internet
13 January 2010, 4:30 pm
MIT Media Lab, Bartos Theater

I am very pleased to be here today, and, on behalf of the
Internet Society I appreciate the opportunity to help set the
stage for this workshop. In particular, we are happy to see
the FCC reaching out even more broadly to involve the Internet
Community.

The Internet Society was founded in 1992 by Internet pioneers
Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn as a global not-for-profit organization
dedicated to ensuring the open development and use of the
Internet for the benefit of people throughout the world. As a
global community with over 28,000 Individual members, 100
organization members and chapters in more than 90 countries,
we address issues at the intersections of technology, policy,
and development.

The Internet Society is also the organizational home for the
Internet Architecture Board (IAB), and the Internet
Engineering Task Force (IETF), which is the premier standards
body for the Internet. The topics embodied in the title of
this workshop—“Innovation”, “Investment”, and the “Open
Internet”, as well as the important dependencies amongst
them—are critical to the future of the Internet, and central
to the Internet Society’s mission. Of course, the Internet of
today is very different from the Internet when the Internet
Society was founded over 18 years ago. The World Wide Web was
in its infancy. There was no Twitter or Flickr. No Facebook.
And companies such as Google and Skype didn’t yet exist. The
infrastructure was very different in size and capability as
well; in the course of less than two decades, the reach of the
Internet has grown nearly 1000-fold, and today connects more
than 1.5 billion people.

What has remained constant about the Internet, what is at the
heart of its growth—and what distinguishes the Internet from
other technologies or communication networks —is its continued
evolution. Its amazing success has only been possible because
of its development model built on openness, transparency,
decentralization, and its distributed nature. Because the
Internet is an open platform, users, network engineers, and
businesses of all sizes can innovate both with regard to the
platform itself—the Internet–and in how that platform is used.
Everyone can participate in its development.

This distributed, open, and transparent approach has come to
be called the “Internet Model” of development.

Some have suggested that the openness of the Internet is
somehow in conflict with innovation and investment. This often
plays itself out in polarizing discussions that set at odds
the interests of network operators and content providers. On
the one hand, too much openness, it is said, will diminish
investment in infrastructure by network operators, thereby
stifling innovation and the expansion of Internet
connectivity. On the other hand, discrimination of Internet
traffic will prevent content providers and individuals from
developing new services and using the Internet as they wish.

The Internet Society takes a different view: we do not believe
openness is a zero sum game. For example, following the
Comcast BitTorrent dispute, which involved peer-to-peer
application traffic, the companies engaged in an open Internet
standards process at the Internet Engineering Task Force to
build better technology to address the heart of their problems
going forward. Two new, open Working Groups were created
within the IETF following long-established protocols. The
LEDBAT (Low Extra Delay Background Transport) working group is
standardizing a congestion control mechanism for peer-to-peer
applications, and the ALTO (Application Layer Traffic
Optimization) working group is developing a protocol to inform
applications about network characteristics and topology. That
work has stimulated even further work as network operators and
content providers use the open IETF forum to engineer longer
term approaches to refining congestion management in the
global Internet – that is, beyond the reach of their own
networks and services. In this way, open participation in
collective development efforts leads to broader opportunities
for innovation and development than would be possible through
narrow or closed, private efforts.

The result of this process is that the knowledge and skills of
many companies as well as the broader Internet community can
be brought to bear to address a specific challenge. We all
stand to benefit from the more robust Internet architecture
that will result from this kind of engagement. The fact that
the Internet remains open to ongoing evolution in its
development, operation, management, and use means that the
opportunities for context-shifting innovation and creativity
still abound today. Innovators are not locked into a centrally
predetermined future. Instead, they have the freedom to create
multiple possibilities, with success or failure dependent upon
whether they are taken up by users.

Similarly, policy should not be written in terms of today’s
technologies or applications or around narrow assumptions
about how bandwidth is managed. Just as the ability to engage
and benefit from a broad range of ideas has been a hallmark of
what has made the Internet so successful, it is also true for
Internet policy. Looking at the diversity of the panelists
here, I think this workshop is a good example of a multi-
stakeholder approach to tackling a difficult issue in the
marketplace. So I commend the FCC for engaging in such an open
process and for seeking out a wide range of viewpoints.

This workshop is being webcast, so it is important to note
that governments, businesses, and Internet users in other
countries are keeping a close eye on how these issues are
addressed in the United States. While the Internet reaches 1.5
billion people today, it will reach billions more in the next
few years. The ability of those people to contribute to the
Internet’s continued evolution will shape its future.

In closing, the Internet is an extraordinary platform for
innovation, and has benefited from broad participation in both
the use and development of Internet technology, services and
applications. The Internet’s openness has been critical to its
past success and is the key to continued innovation and
investment.

About joly

isoc member since 1995

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