First there was the Defense Department-funded Arpanet project connecting mainframe computers at four American universities in the late 1960s. And then, gradually, through a series of key steps—beginning in the United States and eventually involving the rest of the world—today’s Internet emerged. Its central technologies and design principles, packet-switching, minimal intelligence at the core, reliance on innovation at the edges—have proved vastly more powerful than its pioneers ever imagined. Voice transmission, for example, once the hallmark of international communications systems, is now just a modest Internet application.
Stephen Crocker discussed recent, dramatic changes in Internet technology—and equally dramatic, accompanying changes in the Internet’s supporting structures. He speaks of “supporting structures“—rather than simple “governance“—to emphasize a profound and ongoing evolution in thinking about the essential nature of public-sector involvement in modern telecommunications. Mr. Crocker will provide an overview of the current landscape and comment on the challenges he anticipates over the next decade.