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section heading icon     primers

This page points to some introductions to the network infrastructure and some policy questions. 

It covers -

There is more detail in other guides on this site, in particular those about governance, metrics and the digital environment.


Global Connections: International Telecommunications Infrastructure & Policy (New York: Wiley 1997) by Heather Hudson is a lucid introduction to the global pipelines - the cables, microwave, satellite and other links. Zenon Carlos' article A Simplified Overview of Undersea Development: The Eruption of Bandwidth Across the Pacific offers a succinct description of Australia-US infrastructure developments. Matthew Zook's The Geography of the Internet Industry (Oxford: Blackwell 2005) is essential reading. 

The Last Mile: Broadband & The Next Internet Revolution (New York: McGraw-Hill 2000) by Jason Wolf & Natalie Zee and Planet Broadband (Indianapolis: Cisco Press 2004) by Rouzbeh Yassini are less authoritative but useful introductions for non-technologists. 

Cary Lu's The Race For Bandwidth: Understanding Data Transmission (Redmond: Microsoft Press 1998) is a short guide; more accessible than most of the publications from the Gates empire. 

Robert Heldman's The Telecommunications Information Millennium (New York: McGraw-Hill 1995) offers a one volume description of communication technologies, useful as an introduction to the Harvard Information Infrastructure Project volumes noted below.

Douglas Comer's Computer Networks & Internets (Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall 1997) is a more detailed primer about hardware and software. Recommended, but not in the reading-for-pleasure category. Globalisation, Technology & Competition: The Fusion of Computers and Telecommunications in the 1990s (Boston: Harvard Business School Press 1993) by Stephen Bradley, Jerry Hausman & Richard Nolan is one of the better HBS studies.

For the wireless web - considered later in this guide - there is a succinct overview in the Scientific American, with more detail in The Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) (New York: Wiley 2000) by Steve Mann & Scott Sbihli. There is a more technical introduction in Marcel van der Heijden's Understanding WAP: Wireless Applications, Devices & Services (Norwood: Artech 2000).

For ISDN see in particular John Griffiths' ISDN Explained: Worldwide Network and Applications Technology (New York: Wiley 1992).

     hardware and software

Elsewhere in this site we have commended Irv Englander's The Architecture of Computer Hardware & Systems Software (New York: Wiley 2000) as a lucid introduction to computer architecture and software, embracing mainframes, pcs, peripherals and networks. If you don't know the difference between a WAN, a LAN and the net, this may be the book for you. 

Anytime, Anywhere Computing: Mobile Computing Concepts & Technology (Hague: Kluwer 1999) by Abdelsalam Hela & Darrell Woelk offers a detailed introduction to pervasive computing.

     law and policy 

There is an extensive literature on network law and policy issues. We've highlighted particular works, eg on pricing and the activity of major carriers such as Telstra, later in this guide. 

The following works are points of entry for non-specialists.

There is an intelligent introduction to the ITU (profiled here) and other standards bodies in Constructing World Culture: International NonGovernmental Organizations Since 1875 (Stanford: Stanford Uni Press 1999), a collection of essays edited by John Boli, and International Telecommunication Standards Organizations (Norwood: Artech 1990) by Andrew Macpherson.

Gerd Wallenstein's  Setting Global Telecommunication Standards (Norwood: Artech 1990) and The Law and Regulation of Telecommunications Carriers (Boston: Artech House 1999) by Henk Brands & Evan Leo are drier. Maureen Breitenberg's 1987 briefing on The ABC'S of Standards-Related Activities in the United States has retained its value as an introduction to US standards processes and players. A comment is provided by Andrew Updegrove's 2002 submission Is There a Need for Government Involvement in the Standard Setting Process?.

There is a broader perspective in The Politics of Global Governance: International Organizations in an Interdependent World (Boulder: Rienner 2001) edited by Paul Diehl, Private Authority & International Affairs (Albany: State Uni of NY Press 1999) edited by A. Claire Cutler, Virginia Haufler & Tony Porter and Theories of International Regimes (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni Press 1997) by Andreas Hasenclever, Peter Mayer & Volker Rittberger.

Ann Branscomb edited the major collection Toward A Law of Global Communication Networks (New York: Longman 1986), complemented by Governing Global Networks: International Regimes for Transport & Communications (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni Press 1996) by Mark Zacher & Brent Sutton. Mark Armstrong's Media Law (Melbourne: Oxford Uni Press 1999) is a masterly introduction to the Australian regime.

The First 100 Feet: Options for Internet and Broadband Access (Cambridge: MIT Press 1999), edited by Deborah Hurley & James Keller, is a Harvard Information Infrastructure Project collection that explores opportunities for business, government and communities rather than the 'last 100 feet' problem discussed in the preceding page of this guide. 

There ia similar perspective in National Information Infrastructure Initiatives (Cambridge: MIT Press 1997) edited by Brian Kahin & Ernest Wilson. 

Kahin co-edited  Borders In Cyberspace (Cambridge: MIT Press 1997), which explores global rule-making, jurisdictions and other issues discussed in our governance guide. It is a way of getting to grips with the debate about whether we live in what John Perry Barlow and Kenichii Ohmae describe as 'the borderless world'. (Our assessment: reports of death of the border - and of the state - are premature). 

Public Access to the Internet (Cambridge: MIT Press 1995), edited by Kahin & James Keller, introduces pricing, national infrastructure initiatives and other issues explored in the 'digital divide' page of our metrics guide.

Michelle Egan's insightful Constructing a European Market: Standards, Regulation, and Governance (Oxford: Oxford Uni Press 2001) draws together several threads.

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version of December 2004
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