monopolies to effective market competition, varying in speed of accomplishment in different locations. The associated gradual relaxation of regulation must be done carefully, in such a way that monopolies are freed from regulation in proportion to the reality of effective competition.
Postulate 3: A fundamental difference between the information superhighway and certain other widely used facilities such as the interstate highway system is in the mechanism for paying for their use. If you pay for something out of the public purse, and give it away for free or for a flat-rate charge, you create the potential for enormous waste of that resource if excessive use of that resource is of some benefit to the users. In the case of asphalt highways, that turns out not to be much of a problem: a person can "waste" the resource only by spending time driving on the roads. But in the case of the NII, one could send megabyte files to thousands of folks who don't want them, just by pressing an <ENTER> key, if the service were free. So Postulate 3 says that although there will be specific instances of flat-rate billing for services, usage-based billing will be widely used, to limit wasteful use of the resources and to correlate costs with benefits.
Postulate 4: As often stated by federal representatives, the NII/GII will be built by private-sector investments, not by governments. That clearly does not exclude governments from building facilities for their own use when specific needs cannot be met by private-sector providers, or from exercising their regulatory power to assure fair competition and to achieve other public interest goals, or from having their purchasing power influence the direction and speed of development and implementation. The purchasing power of the top 10 to 15 federal agencies is comparable to that of the Fortune 500 companies, so that power can surely influence the marketplace. But governments won't build the basic infrastructure.
Postulate 5: There are, however, public-interest goals that governments must participate in achieving. Aside from relaxing current laws and regulations that prevent competition in networks and services, we postulate that a major governmental role will be in assuring implementation of what we prefer to think of as the "successor to universal service." The successor to universal service could take either of two quite different forms, or some combination of the two. It could mean simply equitable access, meaning that the NII should be sufficiently ubiquitous that anyone can have access to the network at equitable rates and at some accessible location. Or it could be an advanced universal service, which would enable qualified persons or entities to use selected services available via the NII. In either case, any subsidy should be targeted to the needs of end users, not to specific providers. All providers must be able to compete for the end user with equal access to the subsidy funds or vouchers.
In whatever combination evolves, the mechanisms for funding and distributing the subsidy pool will be different from today's mechanisms, with multiple network and service providers being involved instead of today's situation with monopoly providers of networks and services. The mechanisms for creating any subsidy pools that may be required must be fair and equitable to all of the contributors to those pools. Contributors could be network and service providers, but could also be governments, using income from some form of taxes. Clearly, some level of regulation will be required during the transition from today's "universal service" to tomorrow's version of that concept.
Postulate 6: The anticipated vast increase in use of the GII for personal and business purposes offers potential for enormous compromises of security (of both personal and business confidential information), personal privacy, and protection of intellectual property, unless preventive measures are implemented. And since people don't want their privacy invaded and businesses simply cannot afford to have their proprietary information exposed to others, people and businesses will adopt encryption and/or other mechanisms to prevent such intrusions and exposures. Government and law enforcement agencies must recognize that reality and must not unduly restrict the use and worldwide trade of encryption technologies.
We begin with a high-level description of what we are expecting will evolve and then discuss what must be done to get there. One of the most concise definitions of an NII/GII is found in the 1994 report Putting the Information Infrastructure to Work, from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, "the facilities and services that enable efficient creation and diffusion of useful information."