The MIT Center for Digital Business A Partnership in Research

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Groups   >   Communication Futures August 01, 2006
Communications Futures Research Group

Head: Dr. David Clark, MIT Laboratory for Computer Science

Associated Faculty and Staff:
Prof. John deFigueiredo, MIT Sloan School, Behavioral Policy Science Group
Prof. Charles Fine, MIT Sloan School, Operations Management Group
Sharon Gillett, MIT Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development
Dr. William Lehr, MIT Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development
Dr. James Short, MIT Sloan School, Information Technology Group


The Communications Futures Program (CFP) is a partnership between university and industry at the forefront of defining the roadmap for communications and its impact on adjacent industries. CFP’s mission is to help our industry partners recognize the opportunities and threats from these changes by understanding the drivers and pace of change, building technologies that create discontinuous innovation and building the enablers for such innovation to be meaningful to our partners.

The Communications industry is witnessing emerging and destabilizing events where an industry structure built around centralized intelligence and control is being challenged with intelligence and control in many instances shifting to end users and vice versa. Just as the Internet, the PC wave and Digitization of Multi-media were transforming events, this trend in communications is likely to have an even greater impact on industry. An example of this trend is VoIP, where control over a centralized switching application is moving to the edge of the network. In what ways will shifting control between the edge of the network and vice versa, play out?
CFP believes that while the role of technology in industry transformation is important, equally important business drivers in the communications industry can accelerate or slow this process. Drivers include widespread availability of broadband infrastructure, role of regulation, role for enabling capabilities such as privacy and security, and effective business models and rights management for companies to profit from. Other drivers include alignment across the communications value chain for speedy rollout of new services.

CFP is focused on four important issues:
1. Invent technologies that create discontinuous innovation
2. Create enablers of industry transformation around broadband infrastructure, regulation, privacy and security, edge core dynamics, rights management, and others
3. Align members across the communications value chain to speed innovation
4. Develop awareness around big opportunities from emerging technologies

CFP’s working group structure allows industry participants to be engaged closely with faculty in the research and to provide valuable input into the direction of the program. Working groups are chaired by faculty and industry sponsors. Working groups are fluid and are launched as new issues emerge and disbanded as issues become less relevant. Initial working groups are:

1. Technologies That Create Discontinuous Innovation,
2. Last Mile Broadband Infrastructure,
3. Security and Privacy, and
4. Edge Core Dynamics: Business Models and Technologies.

MIT Center for Digital Business > Research > SIGs