BITAG reports continue to assist policymakers, regulators, industry, and the public with understanding the technical issues involved with Internet network management, especially those issues with strong telecommunications policy implications. We continue to be excited about the additional clarity BITAG can bring to the related policy debates through our balanced processes and structure, the engineering “problem solving” ethos of our participants and forum, and our consensus-based reports that describe these issues, contain key technical insights and observations, and give best practice recommendations.
Looking back, 2015 was again a busy year for BITAG, with our technical working group addressing the topic of Differentiated Treatment of Internet Traffic, which included the special case of prioritization. That report continued to build on top of the well-received 2014 BITAG reports on Interconnection and Traffic Exchange on the Internet and VoIP Impairment, Failure and Restrictions. Additionally, in early 2015 the FCC cited to BITAG reports and mentioned BITAG itself as a forum a total of fourteen times in its Order and Declaratory Ruling on Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet. We continue to be pleased that regulators and others have found BITAG’s reports helpful.
Looking forward, 2016 has been shaping up to be an important year as well, with BITAG’s technical working group looking at potential topics in both measurement and the security of consumer premises equipment (CPE) and Internet of Things (IoT), among other topics. Further, 2016 may be very important as the entire Internet ecosystem awaits the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision on a challenge to the Open Internet Order. Of course, we do not know what the outcome of that decision will be, but we know that however the court decides – whether to uphold the Order in its entirety or whether to strike it down in whole or in part – BITAG will have a strong role in assisting policymakers, regulators and the public in understanding the technical aspects of these issues. It is important to understand how policy decisions may affect the technical underpinnings of how these networks, applications, equipment, and content interact and work. BITAG will continue to assist with this important function.
BITAG’s membership has continued to grow in the past few years, and importantly continued to broaden. It is vitally important to have a broad a cross-section of the Internet ecosystem involved in these technical discussions – for it is this breadth and variety of viewpoints, all technically proficient and experienced, that gives our work product its value. Here, we are very happy at the additional and varied points of view, but also the strong academic involvement. It is key to include the thought leaders and relevant technology creators in these discussions. Equally important, if not more so, is the inclusion of those people responsible for implementing the technology and operating these networks and applications as there are always unique issues when the “rubber meets the road,” and those practical concerns must be taken into account in the laws and regulations addressing these technical issues.
Finally, as always, we encourage both members and non-members alike to continue to suggest technical topics of interest to BITAG and its technical working group. There are many potential topics that BITAG could take up, but BITAG should only take up those topics that are pressing and of value to the wider telecommunications community, policymakers, regulators, industry, and the public.
It should be another exciting year, and look for interesting and valuable reports from BITAG in 2016. In fact, as we have said before, it should continue to be an exciting next few years, and BITAG is looking forward to continuing to increase the clarity and technical proficiency of these telecommunications policy debates.
Douglas C. Sicker
Chair of the Technical Working Group
Kaleb A. Sieh