In a broad account accessible to generalist and specialist alike, the authors—social scientists as well as technologists—address the current national debate about the development of a National Information Infrastructure. They locate the debate in its historical context and outline a bold vision of an open communications infrastructure that will cut through the political gridlock that threatens this "information highway."
Internet telephony is the integration and convergence of voice and data networks, services, and applications. The rapidly developing technology can convert analog voice input to digital data, send it over available networked channels, and then convert it back to voice output. Traditional circuit-switching networks such as telephone lines can be used together with packet-switching networks such as the Internet, thereby merging communication modes such as email, voice mail, fax, pager, real-time human speech, and multimedia videoconferencing into a single integrated system.
More than fifty years ago, Joseph Schumpeter stated that processes intrinsic to a capitalist society produce a "creative destruction," whereby innovations destroy obsolete technologies, only to be assaulted in turn by newer and more efficient rivals. This book asks whether the current chaotic state of the telecommunications and related Internet industries is evidence of creative destruction, or simply a result of firms, governments, and others wasting valuable resources with limited benefits to society as a whole.
The Internet has rapidly become an important element of the economic system. The lack of accepted metrics for economic analysis of Internet transactions is therefore increasingly problematic. This book, one of the first to bring together research on Internet engineering and economics, attempts to establish such metrics.
The chapters, which developed out of a 1995 workshop held at MIT, include architectural models and analyses of Internet usage, as well as alternative pricing policies. The book is organized into six sections: