Net neutrality and maintaining innovation took center stage last week when industry leaders from AT&T, Brocade, Facebook, the White House and GM came together for the Future of US Digital Infrastructure Event.
The half-day event featured two hour-long panels with ten government and IT superstars, including Jim Cicconi, senior executive VP, External and Legislative Affairs, AT&T; Dipayan Ghosh, Privacy and Public Policy, Facebook; David Giambruno, SVP & CIO, Tribune Media Company; Christine Heckart- Senior Vice President of Ecosystems and CMO, Brocade; Thomas Kalil, deputy director for policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Senior Advisor for Science, Technology and Innovation for the National Economic Council; Harry Lightsey- Executive Director, Global Connected Customer, Public Policy, General Motors; Tony Scott, US CIO; and Christopher Smith, VP, Technology, AT&T Government Solutions.
Panelists discussed how the pace of change in networks and services is happening so fast that government and regulatory agencies are having a hard time keeping up. They also covered a range of issues being effected and enabled by the change, such as connected cars, big data, privacy and security, and spectrum.
The panelists broached the contentious topic of net neutrality and Title II, which AT&T's Cicconi said was a "muddle that cries out for new legislation and new laws designed for the 21st century -- not for the monopoly phone system of 1934."
Panelists on the second panel talked about the state of the US's digital infrastructure and network architecture, compared with other countries, such as South Korea. Kalil said that the US has so many leading tech companies because of an innovation ecosystem, leading research universities, angel investors and a culture that encourages risk-taking and mentorship. "We need to hang onto that ... to maintain our leadership in the 21st century," he said.
While the discussion covered many angles -- including the movement to software-defined networking and New IP networks -- and panelists expressed varying opinions on many things, Brocade's Heckart noted one important common theme at the end of the first panel. "Where everyone does have common interest in spurring interest for the future," she said. "The Administration has a chance to build a legacy by building infrastructure that will last for the next 20 years."
Check back for a follow-up article on key event takeaways. Plus you can watch video replays of the panels here and click on the image below to launch the slideshow.
A Spot of Color
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