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Digital Crossroads: American Telecommunications Policy in the Internet Age

3.9 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0262140911
ISBN-10: 0262140918
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 702 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (February 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262140918
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262140911
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,227,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Adele Fasick on August 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In Digital Crossroads, the authors, both lawyers with experience in telecommunications, offer a readable guide to the complex regulatory policies shaping electronic communication. Starting with the economic principles that have guided government agencies through the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, they give a basic history of the development of wireline communication, primarily through telephone, and explain how the advent of wireless technology via radio, television, cell phones, and the Internet have affected policies and practices. Although it is not easy reading, both the technical and legal aspects of communication are made clear even to a reader who is neither a lawyer nor an engineer. The policies discussed in this book will affect every citizen who cares about obtaining and communicating information to individuals and groups. Understanding the background given here, will help individuals follow the current legislative news as Congress revises the 1996 Telecommunications Act. This is a book many community groups and activists should read and discuss.
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Format: Paperback
A long time ago (eons in terms of telecommunication regulation) I worked as a lawyer regulating telephone companies. I am now a law professor and and have taught telecommunications law on and off over the years. The greatest challenge for the course was finding a text that summarized the policy and legal issues in a field that moves literally at light speed.

Digital Crossroads is such a book. It starts with a brief history of telephone communications, and proceeds to summarize the issues raised by regulation of traditional telephone service both historically and under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. It then introduces the internet and discusses the challenges that raises both to regulation of the internet itself and the regulaton of telephony that it had previously introduced. It proceeds to introduce wireless communication and the convergence of broadcasting snd entertainment and discuss the impact of these topics in a similar fashion.

The strength of the book is that it organizes the material within each chapter in terms of economic and regulatory themes that repeat as different technologies and media are discussed, and that are the heart of debate about over any aspect of telecommunications regulation. Hence, it is relevent even though the industry has moved even since the book was published just a few years ago. (No book on this topic will ever be truly "up-to-date".) It is compehensive in its discussion of both economics, policy, law and regulation. The book is bit more supportive of simply not regulating several technologies/services than I am, but presents arguments both for and ageinst regulation even when it suggests that any regulation may be unwise.
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Format: Hardcover
If you need a current understanding of the law and politics around telecommunications today, this is THE book you need. While long, it is clearly written, concise, lucid, and technically excellent. Even with extensive experience in this domain, I found this book to be the most cogent and readable summary of the issues today, and I learned a lot in the process.

Jonathan Nuechterlein and Philip Weiser are practicing lawyers that have taken the time to learn enough of the engineering and technology of the telecommunications world to be able to explain the intersection of law, politics, and technology to anyone with an interest in the topic. Their goal with this book is to lay a foundation for revisions to US (and global) laws as they apply to voice, data, and video communications distribution networks. While they do not have the answers yet (no one does), they lucidly and often humorously explain why today's laws and regulations are increasingly obsolete. In the process, the authors describe how technology and software are interacting to force the government to abolish the regulatory divisions between the voice and video worlds.

Nuechterlein and Weiser outline a four layer model for communications policies of the future, dividing the domain into 1) the physical infrastructure layer, 2) a logical connectivity layer, 3) an applications layer delivering voice, video, and data services to end users, and 4) a content layer that addresses publicly visible content in any format. They illustrate how this model can be used to devise laws that can effectively achieve the goals of government, and, more importantly, how the model can demonstrate the weaknesses of existing and proposed laws and rules.
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Format: Hardcover
Digital Crossroads is that rare combination, a comprehensive and accurate -- but well-written and accessible -- presentation of the state of the technology, economics, and law driving today's complex telecommunications industry. I used it in my Albany Law School seminar on Telecommunications Law for the 21st Century, and students found it highly accessible--especially the technology chapters. The book is a real accomplishment: comprehensive, thoughtful, and forward-looking, without being swept away by the latest gimmick off the shelf. It is also an extremely well written and organized book, clear and authoritative. In addition, for either the practitioner or academic, the inclusion of relevant sections of the 1996 Telecommunications Act adds value and convenience. Making coherent sense of this industry, its history and trajectory, is a daunting challenge and one the authors met, apparently without flinching.
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