Information and Telecommunications Protocols: Modeling and Policy Analysis


Instructors: Jean Camp and Lee McKnight

semester: Spring 2000

The Gordian Knot, by Lee McKnight and Richard Solomons


What is a protocol in the telecommunications sense? Understanding the regulatory options in the emerging information infrastructure requires understanding the technology, the economics of the technology and the assumptions of the technology. Seemingly simple questions (e.g., which is faster, cable modem or DSL?) are presented as having simple answers. But questions of protocol speed, price, and applicability rarely have one answer. Instead, network deployments involve technology choices that are intertwined with social, legal, economic and political considerations. Selecting appropriate deployment strategies requires the ability to identify the costs and capabilities of the infrastructure. In order to equip students with this ability, this class offers techniques for building and analyzing models of advanced telecommunications networks and services, taking account of technology characteristics, policy issues, and socioeconomic factors. Students will learn methods for assessing economic and policy issues raised by information technology. Research and publications on the ongoing development of the Internet and information infrastructure provides this class with especially timely data sets for analysis. Students will study cost models for intranets, the local loop, local access to the Internet, and Internet telephony. Policy analyses will consider the perspectives of various stakeholders in infrastructure development.


Engineering-economics is fundamentally cost-based. This is an engineering-economics course that requires an understanding of the interplay between economics, technology, and the regulatory environment. Alternatively this can be viewed as an information policy course requiring some understanding of the economics involved in infrastructure questions. The student should come out of this class with an understanding of the high level structure of the telecommunications market and knowledge of some of the economics underlying such diverse technologies as streaming media, wireless, and high speed Internet access from the home.


Three modeling exercises 20% each
Final project 30%
Class participation 10%