Experts eye Web's next generation

August 31, 2005

The National Science Foundation's early-stage plans to build a next-generation Internet should focus on creating an environment where safety and security are the key considerations -- factors not integral to the original Web when it was conceived more than a generation ago, experts told UPI's The Web.

The new project, first discussed publicly last week during a scientific conference in Philadelphia, is dubbed the Global Environment for Networking Investigations, or GENI, and is estimated to cost at least $300 million to build. The primary idea is to focus on "pervasive computing" projects, as experts call them -- improving the performance of personal digital assistants, mobile phones and similar technologies, so millions of additional consumers can easily come online.

Experts remain cautious about the proposed project -- which has not yet received funding, or even authorization, from the relevant congressional committees.

Rob Nazzal, director of project management of Mazu Networks in Cambridge, Mass., a network-security company, said there are advantages to re-examining the Internet as a "clean slate," but trillions of dollars already have been spent all over the globe by companies and governments on the current Internet.

"As a practical matter, the existing Internet must be taken into consideration if adoption is to occur rapidly, if at all," Nazzal said, noting that the NSF traditionally funds basic research into unproven technologies, not reconfigurations or reiterations of existing systems.

He said for him and for other IT professionals, the "ideal approach" to re-envisioning the Internet would require a number of steps, beginning with the NSF and the Internet industry examining the shortcomings of the current World Wide Web. This includes security threats -- viruses, denial-of-service attacks, spoofing and phishing, he said.

Paul Brazina, interim dean of the school of business at Philadelphia's La Salle University and founder of the school's e-commerce institute, agreed.

"Content filtering of electronic communications will be the cutting-edge technology," Brazina said.

Then NSF and the Internet community must examine the benefits of the current system -- of which there are many -- he said. This includes the capacity for "hierarchical growth."

Another advantage of the current situation is the many technologies that can interface with the Internet.

"Look at recent technology -- WiFi, connected PDAs and home media centers -- and future technologies, bio-integrated tech that leverage the network in potentially unique ways," Nazzal said.

Moreover, experts cautioned, any next-generation Internet project approved by Congress, after being formally proposed by NSF, must interoperate with the current Internet.

The NSF and industry must develop "backwards compatible standards that enable the new Internet to communicate with the current one," Nazzal said. "The solution must be one that allows organizations to have a logically staged approach to the transition."

There is no business on the planet, he continued, "that could justify replacing all of its infrastructure for incremental gains in security or functionality. The clean slate is valuable for designing the ideal network, but the current Internet must be taken into account to build a bridge to that idea."

The private sector has been powering the innovation on the Internet for more than 10 years. The Web emerged from the Pentagon's DARPAnet, a secret network developed for government communications during the height of the Cold War in the event that a nuclear war disabled the nation's major command and control centers.

This week, Ericsson, the Swedish telecom company, introduced a new technology, the MX-ONE system, which offers telephone service across the Internet that can connect up to 7,000 users in a voice network that also can be used on the go.

The company said analog, digital, mobile and Internet phones can all be employed via the system.

The Ericsson platform "enables organizations to make a future-proof investment that will help them fully reap the cost and productivity advantages of convergent fixed, Internet-protocol mobile networks," Urban Gillstrom, president of Ericsson's enterprise unit, said in a statement.

Brazina said the idea behind any innovation for the Internet today -- government or private sector -- should be to organize information and "save time for the user." That is because the Internet itself has caused "information overload" for all facets of American society, which "will continue to grow."

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Data driven green design

Related Stories

Data driven green design

September 16, 2015

According to a study by the non-profit Environmental and Energy Study Institute, the commercial and residential building sector accounts for 39 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the United States per year, more ...

Innovations from the wild world of optics and photonics

August 2, 2015

Traditional computers manipulate electrons to turn our keystrokes and Google searches into meaningful actions. But as components of the computer processor shrink to only a few atoms across, those same electrons become unpredictable ...

Fitness app connects exercisers to experts

March 24, 2015

Can advanced networking and next-generation applications help solve some of our nation's most pressing health problems? Can mobile devices and high-speed Internet be used to improve our health and well-being? Showing a commitment ...

Quantum mechanics to charge your laptop?

September 18, 2014

Top scientists from UC Berkeley and MIT found the expertise they lacked at FIU. They invited Sakhrat Khizroev, a professor with appointments in both medicine and engineering, to help them conduct research as part of their ...

Recommended for you

Most EU nations seek to bar GM crops

October 4, 2015

Nineteen of the 28 EU member states have applied to keep genetically modified crops out of all or part of their territory, the bloc's executive arm said Sunday, the deadline for opting out of new European legislation on GM ...

The dark side of Nobel prizewinning research

October 4, 2015

Think of the Nobel prizes and you think of groundbreaking research bettering mankind, but the awards have also honoured some quite unhumanitarian inventions such as chemical weapons, DDT and lobotomies.

Trade in invasive plants is blossoming

October 3, 2015

Every day, hundreds of different plant species—many of them listed as invasive—are traded online worldwide on auction platforms. This exacerbates the problem of uncontrollable biological invasions.

Internet giants race to faster mobile news apps

October 4, 2015

US tech giants are turning to the news in their competition for mobile users, developing new, faster ways to deliver content, but the benefits for struggling media outlets remain unclear.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.