Where should the Internet be heading?
We should join forces for bringing the Internet to the next level. This should include solutions working across domains supporting always-in-touch and seamless services over a fully automated network that enables plug-and-play.
Picture this: while entering a campus area your mobile device receives all driving instructions, rights for parking, access to the meeting room, and video-guidance for finding the meeting room.
Or think of setting up a local business for disseminating tourist-like experiences via high-quality video, stereo audio, corresponding images, and text. You just hook up to a service catalogue, and anyone on the planet with Internet access can enjoy the services and content.
To some extent, these scenarios can already be realised today, although probably in a somewhat fragmentary way. Several critical aspects are lacking for a wide-scale deployment. One example of these aspects is the current lack of proven interoperability across servers and devices as well as across several network domains. Hence, there are some challenges in making the communication fully seamless. There are also some challenges when ensuring the service levels across several domains.
On the business and service levels, times are quite turbulent. On the one hand, a number of business ideas are promoted, such as Facebook, YouTube, and others. And for sure, more are to be expected. On the other hand, the infrastructure also needs to be modernised. Drivers on the infrastructure side are, for example, higher bit rates, increased traffic per user, and diverse requirements by applications and devices. Furthermore, requirements are also stated by governments, such as data retention and lawful interception. These demands put pressure on network operators towards scalability, cost-efficiency, and diversification. Several operators may then ask for the proper incentives for different business roles that need to be in place for a sustained service delivery. All actors involved should see potential for a fair share of the overall business.
Key responses from providers include:
There are several operators deploying broadband accesses on local, regional and international scale. In some cases, broadband Internet accesses are seen as increasing living standards. There have also been surveys listing broadband access among the quality-of-living factors. Involving numerous providers requires efficient arrangements. In addition, there is a conglomerate of technical options. All of these demands stimulate modular solutions on several levels – technical, service, and business.
These trends are also supporting environmental policy goals, for example to reduce business travels and promoting distributed collaboration. These items have been on and off the agenda for decades. However, progress regarding pricing, technical solutions and user acceptance seems to work in favour of these goals. From the network point of view, mechanisms for supporting such services are also finding their place. Examples of such mechanisms are multicast, QoS, and security.
Commonly, a first step involves risk-taking by the network operator. Hence, several operators are reluctant to make this happen on an individual basis. Market directives regarding equal access and equal terms may also slow down the development. Some experts claim that this holds back the innovation of the infrastructure. Responsibility is likely to be shared among several parties. However, for success stories to happen in this area, proper incentives for long-term investments should be clearer.
So, as the societal trends are becoming more favourable for unfolding the high telecoms business potential, more forces should be joined to support inter-domain solutions. Such solutions could include automated procedures aimed at plug-and-play that allow users to stay seamlessly in touch.
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