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Comm Policy 2015 - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Conference on Communications Policy?
The Aspen Institute Conference on Communications Policy is an annual private conference of key decision makers from the telecommunications and information industries, user and consumer groups, academics, non-profit leaders, and representatives from federal, state, and local government. Expert participants from diverse disciplines and viewpoints exchange valuable insights, and develop innovative recommendations to address the technological, competitive, and social issues that are transforming the rapidly changing communications marketplace. 

What is the purpose of this website?
This site displays the report resulting from the annual Conference on Communications Policy.  The series of chapters, written by rapporteur John B. Horrigan, synthesize the ideas that emerged from participants during the three-day dialogue, looking at the steps policy-makers need to take to ensure that there is competitive pressure within the industry to avoid a stagnant marketplace, that the current digital divide does not widen and that there is sufficient security and privacy with personal data.  The site also highlights the Conference contributors, relevant background research and presentations from participants.  The site acts as a dynamic space for viewers to explore the Conference content and engage on the topic. 

What is the Communications and Society Program?
The Communications and Society Program is an active venue for framing policies and developing recommendations in the information and communications fields.  As one of over thirty policy programs at the Aspen Institute, the Program provides a multi-disciplinary space where veteran and emerging decision-makers can develop new approaches and suggestions for communications policy.  The Program enables global leaders and experts to explore new concepts, exchange insights, develop meaningful networks, and find personal growth, all for the betterment of society. 

The Program’s projects range across many areas of information, communications and media policy.  Activities focus on issues of open and innovative governance, public diplomacy, institutional innovation, broadband and spectrum management, as well as the future of content, issues of race and diversity, and the free flow of digital goods, services and ideas across borders.

Who leads the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program?
Charles M. Firestone is executive director of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program. Since his appointment in December 1989, the Program has focused on the implications of communications and information technologies for leadership, the impact of new technologies on democratic and social institutions, and the development of new communications policy models and options for the public interest. He was also the Institute's executive vice president for policy programs and international activities from 1997-2000.

Prior to his positions with the Aspen Institute, Mr. Firestone was director of the Communications Law Program at the University of California at Los Angeles and an adjunct professor of law at the UCLA Law School. He was also the first president of the Los Angeles Board of Telecommunications Commissioners, which advises the Mayor and City Council on all regulatory matters relating to the cable and telecommunications fields.

Mr. Firestone's career includes positions as an attorney at the Federal Communications Commission, as director of litigation for a Washington DC public interest law firm, and as a communications and entertainment attorney in Los Angeles. He has argued several landmark communications cases before the United States Supreme Court and other federal appellate courts. Mr. Firestone is the editor or co-author of seven books, including Digital Broadcasting and the Public Interest (The Aspen Institute, 1998) and Television and Elections (The Aspen Institute, 1992), and has written numerous articles on communications law and policy.

He holds degrees from Amherst College and Duke University Law School and resides with his wife, sculptor Pattie Porter Firestone, in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Who sponsors the programming of the Communications and Society Program?
We would like to thank our attending sponsors of the 2015 Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program for making this and our other conferences possible: Microsoft Corporation, Google, Inc., AT&T Services, Inc., Comcast NBCUniversal, Cablevision, Charter Communications, Dodge & Cox Funds, Intel Corporation, Netflix, Inc., New Street Research, Telefonica Internacional USA, Inc., Time Warner Cable and EMMIS Communications.

Who moderates the Conference on Communications Policy?
Charlie Firestone, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program, moderates the Conference and all other roundtables produced by the Communications and Society Program.

Who are the participants at the Conference on Communications Policy?
Over the years many notable participants, including Julie Brill, Stephen Conroy, Dick Green, Julius Genachowski, Reed Hundt, Larry Strickling, Ajit Pai, Jon Leibowitz, Karen Kornbluh, Mignon Clyburn, Michael O’Rielly, Tim Wu, Cam Kerry, and Graham Richard have attended the Conference on Communications Policy.

Can I attend the Conference on Communications Policy?
Participants at the Conference are a carefully balanced group of key decision makers from the telecommunications and information industries, user and consumer groups, academics, non-profit leaders, and representatives from government that are invited for their expertise, creativity and influential public policy ideas. Participation at the Communications Policy conference is by invitation only. 

Where does the Conference on Communications Policy take place?
The Conference on Communications Policy is an annual summer event that takes place at the Aspen Meadows Conference Center in Aspen, Colorado. 

Does the Conference on Communications Policy have the same theme every year?
The Communications Policy themes vary each year, but always examine issues of telecommunications regulation, competition, and public policy. Previous Communications Policy topics include: “The Atomic Age of Data: Policies for the Internet of Things,” “Video Veritas: Building a 21st Century Video Platform for a High Performance Society,” “Rethinking Communications Regulation,” “Updating the Rules of the Digital Road,” and “Rewriting Broadband Regulation.”

The current Conference on Communications Policy topic is “Skirting Bottlenecks: Policies to Support Network Evolution, Digital Inclusion and Data Security.”