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Convergence Center assists South Korean government in developing telecommunications policies
Convergence Center assists South Korean government in developing telecommunications policiesOctober 24, 2007Margaret Costello Spillettmcostell@syr.edu
As technology evolves from rabbit-eared antennae to high-speed cable hookups and satellite dishes, and as more content is being delivered through multiple outlets, economic market forces also remain dynamic. Policymakers often get pulled into the mix to advise and play referee to the competing broadcasters, cable operators and other telecommunications providers. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission is tasked with regulating this continually changing landscape. But how?
Professor Milton Mueller, director of the Convergence Center at the School of Information Studies (iSchool) and director of the school’s telecommunications and network management program, heads up a team of researchers at the iSchool to answer that question. Their answer will inform policymakers in South Korea who are struggling to respond to similar issues of convergence in their country.
With funding from the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) — South Korea’s largest government-funded IT research facility — Mueller and his team are identifying what philosophy or principles the U.S. regulatory system uses to guide its policy development.
“What we see is that the United States doesn’t pick a favorite technology or configuration,” Mueller says. “We’re not going to say, `Everyone must have broadband cable to their home.’ Our approach is to let the fiber compete with the cable, the satellite, the broadcasters and the mobile phones. The market will sort it out. We tend to be technologically neutral.”
However, in South Korea, Mueller says, the country is in conflict over moving from the old public service broadcasting model — in which none of the content can be copyrighted, broadcasters receive government subsidy, and they produce content for all viewers — to the new commercial telecommunications paradigm, which is driven by the burgeoning content-related services and networking services for-profit markets.
“Digital convergence is a very recent development in the telecommunications sector and is relevant to my interests,” says Manish Dhyani G’09, a graduate student in information management and a project member. “I’m analyzing and learning about the policy implications of convergence. The project has helped me a great deal in one of my core subjects, `Survey of Telecommunication and Information Policies.'”
The team expects to issue its report to ETRI in mid-January. Its members hope to describe not only the process by which the United States approaches problems of competing interests in the telecommunications sector, but also what has been effective and what has not been effective in those approaches.
“We’re happy the Korean government wants the Convergence Center to be involved in this research, and it’s a great project for our students as well,” Mueller says.
Telecommunications and network management student and project member Hesham Sayed G’08 agrees. “I am gaining more knowledge about telecommunications and information policies, how actions are taken and regulations are made, and how the telecommunications industry operates on a national level,” he says.
The Convergence Center, a joint effort of Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies and S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, supports research on and experimentation with media convergence. Its mission is to understand the future of digital media and to engage students and faculty in defining and shaping that future.