I&S 04: Class 11 Notes: An All IP Future?

In preparation for this coming Monday’s class 11 for I&S 04 on the possibility of an All-Internet Protocol Future, here are some of the key questions on my mind:

* Imagine a medium-term future in which virtually all communications become digital, and all digital communications flow over networks using the Internet protocol.  An obvious example, but by no means the whole story, is that all voice traffic no longer travels over the traditional telecommunications infrastructure but rather is all-VoIP.  Is such a world desirable?

* Is such a world likely (or certain, even) to emerge as a technical matter?  Leaving aside policy and politics, what are the technical impediments?

* An all-IP future would be disruptive to certain powerful interests today — most obviously, powerful telecommunications providers, which in many places enjoy hard-won monopolies and have high fixed costs sunk into expensive infrastructures — and would be a boon to those who provide access over, or hardware and software to support, IP neworks.  Who else is helped, harmed, transformed?  Will the average citizen care, other than that pricing is sure to change, and the name of the party or parties to whom the bill is addressed will probably change too?

* Imagine you are a parliamentarian in a developing country.  You are advised by your technology guru that an all-IP future is not just possible, it’s likely, at some point.  You are advised by your political guru that it would be a bad idea to lose the revenues from the state-owned telco, the profits from which pay for education, health care, even your salary.  What policy course do you set?

* Should members of Congress in the US, or members of the EU parliament, make the same decision as the parliamentarian in a developing country?  Does it matter whether these policies are coordinated? 

* Who governs activity on the all-IP network when disputes arise, people involved in the disputes live in different countries, and sovereigns compete for decision-making authority (compare to the discussion in class 10)? 

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