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SIP Co-Author Henning Schulzrinne Appointed CTO of the FCC

In a move to be celebrated by many of us with a VoIP background, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced today the appointment of Henning Schulzrinne as Chief Technology Officer (CTO). As the release indicates, Henning’s role as CTO will be to:

... guide the FCC’s work on technology and engineering issues, together with the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology. He will advise on matters across the agency to ensure that FCC policies are driving technological innovation, including serving as a resource to FCC Commissioners. He will also help the FCC engage with technology experts outside the agency and promote technical excellence among agency staff. He will be based in the FCC’s Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis.

Henning brings an excellent background to this role, having been one of the co-authors of the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP - RFC 3261) and the Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP - RFC 3550 and 1889), the two main standards used in most Voice over IP (VoIP) systems today. Henning is also the author/co-author of over 70 other RFCs and countless Internet-Drafts and has been active with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) since the 1990’s. He also served on the Internet Architecture Board (IAB).

Given the recent FCC workshops on the transition of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) to new technologies, it’s great to have someone with Henning’s background and knowledge in a prominent role at the FCC. Henning himself noted this in an email to the IETF DISPATCH working group mailing list, where he noted that the FCC is definitely seeking input from technical folks.

Obviously in this new role he’ll be working not only with real-time communications but also with the wide range of other areas that the FCC covers. Regardless, it’s excellent to have someone with Henning’s background providing this level of advice and input to FCC activities.

Prior to joining the FCC, Henning has been a professor and chair of the Computer Science department at Columbia University. In my experience he’s also just an all-around decent person and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what he’ll do at the FCC.

By Dan York, Author and Speaker on Internet technologies - and on staff of Internet Society

Dan is the Director, Online Content, for the Internet Society but opinions posted on CircleID are his own. View more of Dan’s writing and audio here.

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