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Public and Private Partners Wrangle with Connectivity

Even though the United States is one of the most “wired” countries in the world, there are other countries that out pace our advances. Our desire for more connectivity, and how to manage it for the benefit of individuals, governments and businesses, was the topic of conversation recently at the Baker Institute at Rice University. Houston Public Radio's Rod Rice


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The Baker Institute’s Chris Bronk says everyone wants more technology, so it’s important to talk to all then layers about how to do it and how to manage a finite resource.

“How do you get a corporation or group of corporations to play their hand, and then have municipalities, the state and other government players design a plan that’s beneficial to all parties? What it entails is compromise, and while public/private partnership is a very positive term, and we know compromise is generally a good idea, unfortunately in compromise everybody looses something, so that’s, that’s the hard part.”

One of the hard parts is how to manage the ever growing traffic on the internet. Jim Cicconi is a senior executive with AT&T. He says it is impossible to just build more and more capacity without building intelligence into the system. He doesn’t agree with those who claim every bit of information should be handled like every other bit.

“One bit can be an e-mail from your grandmother, another is spam, one bit is porn and another is a physician consulting in the middle of heart surgery. Some bits are latency sensitive, like video, others, like e-mail are not. And so it really doesn’t make sense for a network provider to treat all bits the same since bits can be very different things.”

On the other hand, Cicconi says it is not the internet providers business to restrict access to its customers.

All issues that will have to be worked out as we both want and need more connectivity.

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