Richard Whitt

Washington Telecom and Media Counsel, Google

Tinkering without Tampering: Wrestling with Convergence and Communications Policy
24 minutes, 11.1mb, recorded 2009-03-05
Richard Whitt

Washington has been slow to understand that the silos approach created in the 1934 Communications Act doesn't make sense in an environment where media and communications are converging to a single platform:  IP.  Richard Whitt, Senior Policy Director at Google, brings a deep understanding of both emerging technology trends and 21st century economics to the question of how federal policy must change so this new environment can flourish.

First policy makers must understand how networks really function.  The ecosystem of the internet is pushing the value of networks to the edges, where innovation and agility are critical to success.  It's about the last mile, where information meets user.  Openness is the norm for this new world, and old school tools of regulating are hampering what can be a thriving environment for both users and media and communications industries.

The extremely high fixed up-front costs of that last mile of broadband is economically unique, no other private industry has seen this before.  This can make competition actually harmful to the consumer.  The incentives to prioritize traffic are easy to understand.  For these and other reasons Whitt suggests a whole new mindset in approaching thoughtful and effective regulating of broadband.  Net neutrality is only one of many battles to be fought between networks and users.

Richard Whitt is Google’s Senior Policy Director. Whitt is responsible for Google’s wireline, wireless, and media advocacy before the Federal Communications Commission, other federal agencies, and the U.S. Congress.  Prior to joining Google in January 2007 he founded and headed NetsEdge Consulting, a public policy consulting firm that provided legal analysis, regulatory strategy, and advocacy counsel to Web-based companies. From 1994 to 2006 he worked at MCI Communications, where most recently he served as vice president for federal law and policy. Prior to that Whitt was an associate attorney in the communications practices of two D.C.-based law firms. He is a 1988 cum laude graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center and a 1984 magna cum laude graduate of James Madison University.


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