Archive for May 1997

Global Village or Balkanization?

For some time now I have been working with a small group to define regulation around the topic of ‘innovative services’ – a dedicated number area, allowing phone service operators to offer a wider area of services – such as voice-to-email, transcriptions etc. – as indicated by the special numbering system (-012), Simultaneously, startups are diligently working on connecting people to the growing network we now call the internet, opening the potential to shrink geographic distances and facilitate information exchange among people of various languages, and cultural indoctrinations. Telecommunications policy in Europe and the US resolves to extend access to all levels of society, assuming that this will foster greater information exchange while potentially boosting economic growth. However, having experienced the resistance of the legacy infrastructure providers (i.e. Deutsche Telekom) to allow new entrants to connect to their systems first hand, we should be worried that nation states with less forward-thinking government may indeed decide to disallow peer-to-peer connections of users world-wide, instead opting for balkanization, and information control. This concern is share by a group of MIT researchers in their excellent report which can be found here. We need awareness of the fact that it is as likely that nation states will resist integration, creating a ‘Splinternet’ rather than realizing our hope of a global village.