Future and emerging technologies for the internet

23 June 2010 Author: EIFonline

ICT will in many instances enable the development of future services and applications. EIF’s breakfast debate on 23 June focused on how these can drive growth and European competitiveness, and what technology is needed to be successful.

Future and emerging technologies for the Internet first and foremost require standards. That is what the IETF, the Internet Engineering Taskforce does. IETF is one of the stakeholders in the IGF debate and responsible for making the Internet work better, to phrase it in a popular way.

IETF is an open community, not industry led, where anyone with a bright idea can find a platform to help build that better Internet. People participate in IETF mostly on an individual basis and want to help the Internet architecture evolve. The group has a voting system to get consensus on the best ideas.

IETF has been responsible for some of the most widely spread Internet standards and protocols such as DNS, email, and IPv4 and IPv6. For Olaf Kolkman, an active participant at the IETF, it is almost impossible to predict the future of the Internet. In the 1980s people said that the Internet would never ‘make it’ as a commercial platform, similarly nobody could predict the success of VOIP (Internet telephony) before it took off. The main way for the Internet to grow is to maintain an open environment.

It is important that technology and standards developed today are interoperable. The technology needs to work worldwide. Also, industry should have a choice to opt in, but not create the technologies itself.

You can never be sure if a technology will take off before it is actually being used (look at the GSM standard that is currently being used by over 4 billion people). However some patterns can be identifies. There is a strong convergence between mobile and fixed Internet. One of the consequences of this is that mobile devices need to become more energy efficient. Hence, the circuits in the equipment have become an important part of future Internet technologies. Last but not least, security is becoming – ever more – a point of major importance because networks have become critical to countries, people, and wealth.

The good news is that Europe is not lagging behind. Europe is at the forefront of these technologies according to Emmanuel Darmois of Alcatel Lucent. Europe is a global and regional actor setting the pace for standardization.

The European Commission’s plans to double the budget for “Future and Emerging Technologies” research by 2015.


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