"It is no longer simple technology innovation that will shape the future of the telecommunication industry. The future is shaped as much by barriers as innovations: uncertain business models with poor justification for investment, thorny coordination problems with nobody in charge, and changing government policy decisions. We complement this with a different sort of activity — a cross-cutting examination of the industry as a whole."
The Communications Futures Program (CFP) is a research collaboration that studies the future of the telecommunications industry. We operate as a partnership between university and industry, drawing on knowledge and experience that spans multiple disciplines at MIT and a cross section of industry partners. CFP's mission is to work with our partners to understand the opportunities, barriers, and threats in today's tumultuous environment. Our goal is to explore ways by which our members (and the industry as a whole) can better engage the future.
CFP believes that while the role of technology in industry transformation is important, equally important business drivers can accelerate or slow this process. Drivers include widespread availability of broadband infrastructure, regulation, capabilities such as privacy and security, and effective business models. Other drivers include alignment across the communications value chain for speedy rollout of new services.
Major Focus Areas
CFP engages in four important sets of activities:
- Invent and demonstrate technologies that create discontinuous innovation.
- Identify and understand enablers and barriers to industry transformation, using focused study of topics picked jointly by MIT and our partners.
- Align members across the communications value chain to speed innovation
- Develop awareness around big opportunities from emerging technologies
A working group structure allows industry participants to engage closely with faculty in the research and help guide the direction of the program. Working groups are launched as new issues emerge and disbanded as issues are resolved or become less relevant. They are co-chaired by faculty and industry sponsors. The scope of activities is determined by the interests of the participants. Working groups provide a forum for presenting research work and generating collective insights, with the goal of producing white papers and presentations. All work in progress is available exclusively to members on our Web site. Final results are publicly available, and are often published outside CFP, by agreement of the authors and their sponsors.
Each working group has its own mode of operation with most meeting regularly throughout the year at MIT to discuss research topics. All meetings are accessible via conference call. Additionally, the CFP holds an all-members meeting twice a year at MIT or a sponsor site where all working groups gather in person.