Title

The Dynamic Internet: How Technology, Users, and Businesses Are Transforming the Network

Document Type

Article

Comments

The Dynamic Internet: How Technology, Users, and Businesses Are Transforming the Network (AEI Press 2012)

Abstract

Since the Internet burst into the public’s consciousness during the mid-1990s, it has transformed almost every aspect of daily life. At that time, the economic and technological environment surrounding the Internet remained relatively simple: a small number of users ran a handful of applications over a narrow range of technologies interconnected by a simple set of business relationships.

Time has undermined each of these premises. The population of end users has grown exponentially and become increasingly diverse. The applications that dominated the early Internet—email and web browsing—have been joined by new applications such as video and cloud computing that place much greater demands on the network. Wireless broadband and fiber optics have emerged as important alternatives to transmission services provided via legacy telephone and cable television systems, and mobile devices are replacing personal computers as the dominant means for accessing the Internet. At the same time, the networks comprising the Internet are interconnecting through a wider variety of locations and economic terms than ever before.

These changes are placing pressure on the Internet’s architecture to evolve in response. The Internet is becoming less standardized, more subject to formal governance, and more reliant on intelligence located in the core of the network. At the same time, Internet pricing is becoming more complex, intermediaries are playing increasingly important roles, and the maturation of the industry is causing the nature of competition to change. Moreover, the total convergence of all forms of communications into a single network predicted by many observers may turn out to be something of a myth.

In short, policymakers and scholars must replace the static view that focuses on the Internet’s past with a dynamic view flexible enough to permit the Internet to evolve to meet the changing needs of the future.

Date of Authorship for this Version

2012

Keywords

Network diversity, IPTV, network neutrality, private peering, multihoming, secondary peering, content delivery networks, reliability, security, congestion, two-sided markets, intermediation