A possible vision of the Future Internet
The Internet has become in the past ten years a central communication tool for business and more generally for the whole society. People are using mails, blogs, and instant messaging. They are connected to social networks and virtual worlds, sharing pictures and music. They want all those features to be accessible anywhere, anytime and on any device. Networked collaborative enterprises and digital manufacturing are already a reality, and e-business is developing fast. Our societies and culture are inevitably becoming digital. Sooner or later, all human activities will evolve towards their digital era. This concerns all fields of our lives: health, transport, knowledge, culture, and more. After a first euphoric phase in the late 1990s, the time has come to question the basic principles of the Internet, designed more than 30 years ago to transmit data in an unreliable environment.
Challenges and targeted achievements of the evolution of Internet and society confront us with new challenges: digital culture must be accessible for all, networked enterprises will enable cross-business collaborations and transactions. As a consequence, massive and heterogeneous data flows have to be delivered and stored. Furthermore, there is the need for the orchestration of services which mix telecoms, media and web capacities, and which are characterized by simplicity and user centricity.
To answer these challenges, we have to invent new tools for content and knowledge production, management and exchange, design improved access and core networks, conceive new network architectures that are ubiquitous, flexible, efficient and trustable, design innovation-friendly and open service architectures & frameworks.
Although the original principles have permitted the very fast set-up of a global network and its fast growth, the Internet suffers from weaknesses that now need to be corrected based on the followings pillars:
Networks and architecture for the Future Internet
This first pillar includes the edge of Internet, the access network. It should provide higher-bit-rate cost-effective optical solutions. Work is still needed on 4th generation networks (4G), with specific emphasis on the physical layer itself, offering decentralized resource management, command and control as well as seamless mobility.
As for the core network, inter-network service continuity (home, enterprise and public networks) must be further investigated, and high-speed core network design is a key challenge. As an infrastructure extension, the network itself will be providing access to additional on-demand resources.
Internet for people
As concerns the Internet for people, efforts could be put on conversational, interpersonal and community services. This includes inventing new ways of connecting people, new communication means and interfaces, services for workers, and collaborative tools for communities at work and workers on the move as well as interaction between real, digital, and virtual worlds.
Internet of knowledge
To build the internet of knowledge, further work is needed on content creation and production, on content delivery, on search, recommendation & access, on cognition (to pass from content to knowledge) and also on economy and new practice/usages of content and media (with legal, juridical, ethical and business studies and impact)
Internet of services
The next studies for the Internet of services could be focused on user-centric service delivery, with a tight coupling of IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) and the Web. New territories of service creation need to be explored: universal marketplaces and semantic frameworks for publishing and discovering services, software as a service, process as a service, business relationship management, and more.
Building the Future Internet starts now, and European actors should move together and confirm their current common involvement to respond to initiatives launched for example by the USA, Korea, and Japan. The challenges we face are important. Europe needs to unify its forces to drive the construction of this Future Internet, which impact will even be bigger, both on economy and society.
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