May 24, 2017

Peter G. Jacoby ’81, Vice President-Federal Relations & Director of Legislative Strategy, AT&T Services, Inc. on Telecommunications

Peter Jacoby, Vice President of Federal Relations and Director of Legislative Strategy at AT&T, talked about the history, the current conditions, and the future of the telecommunications industry. Jacoby framed his remarks around his long career in the telecommunications industry. A fundamental principle is that the value proposition of a communication network increases exponentially with the number of endpoints on the network.  This idea has a large effect on the way the telecommunications industry is organized. For example, it was the main reason AT&T was initially granted a monopoly in providing long distance service. Jacoby stressed that companies must also find ways to monetize the connections. This continues to be a challenge for some of the most innovative telecommunications companies.

Jacoby revealed how fast the wireless network is evolving. AT&T is working on a 5G network, which increases 4G network speeds by a factor of 100. The speed of a 5G network opens the door for unimaginable progress. Jacoby also discussed various regulations that affect the telecommunications industry. For example, the federal government owns the radio magnetic spectrum (airwaves that transmit data) and licenses it to companies through an auction process.