Canadian Telecom Summit and DPI

telecomtowerFor the past little while I’ve been (back) in Ontario trying to soak up as much information as I could about telecommunications and deep packet inspection. I was generously given the opportunity to attend the Canadian Telecommunications Summit by Mark Goldberg a while ago, and it was an amazing experience. I found that the new media panel, where broadcasters and carriers came together to discuss their (often contrasting) modes of disseminating content offered some real insights into the approaches to media on the ‘net. It demonstrated very clear contrasts in how new media might operate, and be seen by the Dominant Carriers, into focus for me and really began to provide a broader image of the actual strategies of various parties.

A huge element of the conference surrounded the development of wireless as the new space for innovation. Often unspoken, save for in informal discussions, was that wireline was seen as increasingly outmoded. Most statistics that were formally presented saw wireless overtaking wireline broadband by 2014 or so. This has me wondering about how important it is to examine capital expenses by major broadband providers – while we read that there is massive investment (totaling in the hundreds of millions/billions per year across all carriers), how much is in wireless and how much is in wireline infrastructure?

A lot was talked about – a lot – to the point where I’m still digesting everything. On the point of digesting, however, you’re welcome to digest with me. I took copious notes (~100 pages or so) while I was at the summit, which you’re welcome to avail yourself to. They’re formated in .doc, and were typed in Office 2008 (Mac). They can also be provided in .pdf if needed.

My other reason for being in Toronto was to give a presentation on the Deep Packet Inspection Roundtable. Fenwick McKelvey (Communication and Culture, York/Ryerson; scroll down for his bio) organized the event, which saw myself, Fenwick, Andrew Clement (UoT, Faculty of Information), and Robert Hudyma (Ryserson, Information Technology and Management) give various perspectives on DPI. My own presentation focused on the drivers of the technology in Canada (drawing on Ralf Bendrath’s analysis of DPI’s drivers), how these are developing netscapes of power, and what this means for privacy advocates. Fenwick’s presentation beautifully discussed how speed and control are implicated in DPI appliances, Robert spoke on the nuts and bolts of DPI (which was largely sourced from Allot Communications white paper, “Digging Deeper Into Deep Packet Inspection“), and Andrew’s on an upcoming project to map packet flows. Many, many thanks to the Infoscape Research Lab and other affiliates for funding the event, and to all the people who came out.

The roundtable (seemed?) to be a huge success, and was incredibly enjoyable. I was a very different experience than the presentation at the critical digital studies workshop I was at a few weeks ago (which I also deeply enjoyed) – this time, I wasn’t terribly nervous that I would get a question from the floor that I lacked answers to! What a difference the target audience and topic chosen make in establishing comfort levels!