Third-Annual Spectrum Workshop Provokes Discussion, Publishes Recommendations

5.13.2005 – Calit2 directors Larry Smarr and Ramesh Rao participated in the third-annual, by-invitation-only Calit2-ENST Spectrum Workshop held Monday and Tuesday this week. The goal of the workshop was to convene a small group that represents the broadest possible “spectrum” (pun intended) of experience. The 40 attendees were chosen as leaders in their fields from academia, industry, and governmental agencies representing the U.S., Latin America, and Europe.

Michael Kleeman

Workshop organizer Michael Kleeman
recording attendees' one-minute statements

The workshop was organized by

  • Peter Cowhey, dean of the International Relations and Pacific Studies school at UCSD and Calit2
  • Jonathan Aronson, professor, International Relations, Annenberg School of Communications, USC
  • Michael Kleeman, cyberinfrastructure expert at IR/PS and Calit2
  • Gerard Pogorel, professor of Economics and Management at the École Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications (Graduate School of Communications Sciences) in Paris, France
  • Ramesh Rao, Calit2 UCSD division director and professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UCSD

Ramesh Rao

Workshop organizer Ramesh Rao on left

The ground rules were unusual: Based on the belief that most predictions about the telecommunications industry have proven to be failures, the attendees were encouraged to step outside their respective technical “boxes” and take some risks. To foster the most open exchange, meeting organizers adopted the Chatham House Rule[1] specifying that no comments could be attributed publicly to the one who voiced them.

The attendees were encouraged to be playful: “The experts in the room will either laugh at what you have to say or take your idea and run with it,” said one attendee. “Either way, it will fun and interesting.”

In this spirit, the meeting opened with each attendee providing a one-minute, intentionally provocative statement about where s/he saw the telecommunications industry headed.

These statements were followed by brief presentations on macro economics and industry services, technologies (by Calit2 UCSD division director Rao), customer behaviors and customer economics and surprises, industry structure, and the regulatory and policy environment, each of which was followed by a brief period for comment.

ENST workshop attendees


During the afternoon of the first day, attendees broke into three groups focusing on four key scenarios driving the industry. Their charge: To project 5-7 years out how the industry will evolve and how it will affect North America, Europe, Asia , and emerging markets. What services do they forsee? What technology will people use? How will this environment be managed and regulated? They were given the same mandate: Don’t play it safe – there is no penalty for being wrong.

Michael Kleeman, one of the workshop leaders, invoked the spirit of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a well-known cult novel turned into a movie that’s currently showing in theaters, when he told the attendees, “You are the ‘scenario tool.’ You’re going to do a ‘Douglas Adams.’[2] You are ‘life, the universe, and everything.’”



Day 2 of the meeting discussed the findings of the scenario breakout groups (commonalities and differences) and closed with a summary statement of what the overall group believes needs to happen or will happen, the anticipated impacts of their assumptions, and recommendations to policy makers and communications sector company executives.

The report from the workshop describing the scenarios, ensuing discussion, and final recommendations is in the PDF file available (click on "View PDF," below).

[1] The Chatham House Rule states: "When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.” The rule is often used in meetings to invoke openness and encourage sharing of information. See

[2] Douglas Adams is the author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

PDF: Spectrum_workshop_recommendations.pdf