COMS 4419: Internet Technology, Economics and Policy (Fall 2022)

[Syllabus and schedule] [Slides] [Projects]


This course provides a broad overview of current technology, economics and policy challenges in communications, the internet and digital platforms, emphasizing the "why" and "how", as well as historical connections. The course will rely on primary materials (published papers, white papers, technical reports, laws and regulations) and draw heavily on the diverse experiences of the students in the class, whose active participation is expected.

The class will attempt to provide a broad international perspective, with special emphasis on the United States, Canada and Europe.

The instructor has served in roles at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and, this past academic year, as a Technology Fellow in the office of Senator Ron Wyden.

Topics will include:

(Some topics may be omitted depending on time available and class interests.)

The class sessions will combine instructor lectures, guest lectures and discussions.


General engineering, economics, law or technology background. A programming background is not required; projects for CS students will typically, but not necessarily, contain programming components, but others will be able to do a project that reflect their individual academic backgrounds or work as part of interdisclipinary teams.


TuTh, 5.40-6.55 pm, 545 Mudd (CVN classroom)

Instructional Staff

Prof. Henning Schulzrinne (virtual office hours Tuesdays, 1 pm ET or by appointment), please contact at before office hours.
Instructional assistants:
Aradhika Bagchi
Instructional assistant office hours:
by appointment


Tim Wu: The Master Switch

Class Mailing Lists and Other Resources

Grading and Late Policies

25%: Semester project:
A two-person project assigned early in the semester, involving a topic related to the class. (Projects with one or three team members are possible, with scaled expectations.) The project includes a report conforming to standard conventions of scientific papers and a 12-minute presentation, typically at the end of finals week.
5%: Lecture notes:
A two-person team creates and edits lecture notes for one lecture, to create notes for review and exam preparation.
25%: Homework assignments:
There will be five writing assignments, assigned roughly every other week that represent real-life policy writing such as whitepapers, regulatory advocacy and letters to Congressional representatives.
20%: Midterm:
The midterm is one class period (70 minutes), closed book and notes, no "cheat sheet", blue book provided, calculator permitted. The midterm will cover all material discussed in the course up to the week before the exam.
25%: Final:
The final exam is scheduled during the normal final exam time for this class period. The final is 2 hours, closed book, calculator permitted. The final is cumulative and will cover all material discussed in the course.
No "extra credit" work.

All homeworks are due by the date and time specified in the assignment (usually one or two weeks after they are issued). Homework submissions will be electronic, through CourseWorks. Complete instructions will be given with each homework.

You can submit your assignment multiple times, but the last submission is what counts. Each submission will be time stamped. Proper submission is your responsibility; we strongly urge you to make sure you understand the submission process and submit early. You can always submit again up until the deadline, so we strongly urge you to submit well before the deadline and then submit again if you have a more updated assignment to submit later.

You are allowed a total of 5 late days for the whole semester, to be used as you wish throughout the semester. That means you can be five days late for Homework 2 (for example) and turn in all other assignments on time, or one day late for each of the first five homework assignments, with no point penalty. Once you have exhausted your five late days, late homeworks will not be graded at all --- no extensions will be given, except for medical emergencies certified by University Health Services or a family emergency. Naturally, you may hand in incomplete assignments for partial credit by the deadline.

Also see the Columbia Policies and Procedures Regarding Academic Honesty.

All students or groups whose assignments are determined to be obviously very similar will receive a zero on the respective homework assignment for the first offense, and will receive an F for the course for the second offense ("all" means both the copy-er and copy-ee). More serious cases of cheating, such as copying someone's work without their knowledge or cheating on exams, will result in the person cheating receiving an F. In addition, offenses will be reported to the Dean's office, which may result in further disciplinary action, including suspension or expulsion from the program. Penalties will be given without discussion or warning; the first notice you receive may be a letter from the Dean. Note that you are responsible for not leaving copies of your assignments lying around and for protecting your files accordingly.


We would like the course to run smoothly and we'd like you to enjoy the course. Feel free to let us know what you find good and interesting about the course. Let us know sooner about the reverse. See us during office hours, leave us a note, or send us email.


Telecom policy
TPRC is a long-running annual conference where research on topics related to telecommunications, the Internet, privacy and media is being discussed. Links to earlier conferences are at the bottom of the page.
The Benton Foundation sends out a daily summary of telecommunications and internet-related articles.
Economics papers
SSRN is a preprint archive for papers in economics, social sciences and related fields.
The BTOP program supported broadband infrastructure, middle mile and digital inclusion projects. The web site contains reports and case studies.
Advertising, ad blocking
CACM: Overview, ad blocking ethics; Facebook
OECD 2017
Digital divide
Speed measurements by state and city; Rural usage; OECD Bridging the rural digital divide
Rural networks
Tennessee rural electric coops; RUS loans and grants; divergence among states
Nudges & behavioral economics
Teles; surge pricing
Benefits of Competition and Indicators of Market Power