The internet has progressively improved with the progress of technology. When first developed, the internet was used by the elite and rich individuals, mainly for academic research and communication. Over the years, the internet has seen improvement in technical, economical, societal and business aspects. This has enabled almost everyone to be able to use the internet in various ways. Diversity of internet services and data traffic, evidence the rapid growth of internet over the years leading to high complexity of the internet. In addition to the TCP/IP protocol, there are currently close to forty protocols on the internet data services, which accommodate the rising requirements of fixed and mobile internet services. Evolutionary approaches and efforts to change the technical aspects of the internet include supplementing the current internet technology like MobileIP, IPSec, SCTP, DiffServ, and many others.
The societal, economical and business aspects of global research for internet improvements include the global campaigns for internet and media freedom, as well as the equal and free access of internet. These campaigns have come as a result of the increased reliance of internet for a number of daily activities. Internet is currently being used for essential reasons, and is becoming a necessity in most households, jus like water and electricity. People use internet for local and internal communications like instant messaging, email services, internet forums, social contacts and human interactions through networking sites, work, business to business services, financial services, shopping, educational services, and many others. With commerce, Business and online education, it is evident that internet has captured the important areas of human development. Internet has also facilitated free speech and promoting democracy, civic engagements, and economic growth. With the evolvement of internet use, so is its access. Internet evolution has seen technology and computer advancements like the current laptop and palm top types of computers. Internet is also accessible via mobile phones and data cards, facilitating internet access. These improvements have also seen integration of internet and media.
Most media services are now available online; people read newspapers, listen to radios and watch televisions via the internet. Soon, web will be developed via high speed broadband connection, and there will be communications like phone Televisions. Currently, people are creating their own media like blog spots and share them worldwide, as well as videos, music and other lifestyles facilities. The tensions in most countries relate to whether internet remains open, diverse or closed. This decision depends on a country’s policies about internet use and the media. In the past, dominant forces have dominated the media whenever they felt violated by media news. This is also a threat open internet faces but is prevented by online media, as net media challenges government control like in Malaysia with Malaysiakini.com and HarakahDaily.com
To improve free internet access with efficiency, a country could strive for:
This refers to the ability of a government to enable all citizens to access the internet, connect and share freely. When net neutrality is achieved, everyone can access information, visit sites and speak freely without interference and discrimination.
Develop a policy for national broadband. The policy would ensure broadband speed, pace and availability. When a national broadband is developed, there is increased competition for internet providers, which could lead to free or extremely cheap internet and improve internet freedom (Lessig, 66).
Community internet is also a strategy for providing free and equal internet.
Global net activisms have seen progress in the provisions of free internet in some towns especially in America, in airports, hotels and other social places. These activisms have occurred in SeattleWashington, London, Melbourne and Prague. In Seattle, the famous N30 (November 30th) protests against World Trade Organisation accelerated the introduction of free internet in Seattle. Other concerned regarding internet is the tension between internet version 1.0 and version 2.0. Internet version 1.0 promises to bring about changes in political and social action as it is an opened system. Version 1.0 encourages limited action but promotes open participation. Version 2.o is a closed system but also encourages open participation. To investigate the future of free internet, it is important to look at the challenges facing future internet. Some of these challenges include:
The ability of online networks to deliver internet services that is equitable. That everyone should be included and considered while developing internet networks. It should be affordable and easy to access and use. Any restrictions should apply to everyone and with no discriminations.
The impacts that internet has should also be considered, both the negative and positive impacts of internet activities. With the popularity of internet, it is easy to misuse it in ways that could harm the society, especially harm to the young generation. Impact of internet activities is considered in social, political and cultural influences.
. Trust refers to the ability of future internet providers to collaborate, preserve social capital and develop online cultures that ensure collaborations.
Because of the rising media project and online civil society’s actions, there is a need for new models to support them.
The civil society must prevent trends that threaten the nature of open markets. These trends include surveillance, closed networks and repressive intellectual regimes.
To avoid the above, there are certain measures that could be put in place. Amongst them include:
- Building a movement for social technology which would create cohesive platforms useful for collaborations, improved connection, and integrations within the civil societies.
- Focus on goals by developing systems that bring equity rather than those that discriminate against users.
- Embrace a new culture that creates new models for collaborations and sharing.
- Focus on new models that ensure political and social goals are all met equally.
- To fight the threat of network enclosure, civil societies should fight to keep networks open by use of new technologies, network designs and legal frame works.
A number of places where the internet is already free include airports like SeaTac in Seattle, Long beach in California phoenix sky harbour in Arizona and North in Las Vegas. Public zones for free internet include Seattle, Portland, Atlanta, San Francisco, Bellevue, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Hermosa Beach (Graham, 206).
There are current internet developments which are ongoing to improve future internet. These developments include bandwidth and functionality of the internet. In line with the above, there are a number of trends that shape the future of the internet. These include;
Globalism: Global distribution of internet for free information and access of knowledge at lower costs. If this happens, more people at the macro level will be able to make informed decisions regarding important aspects of their lives, improving the standards of living. When internet access is globalised, there will be integration of the world that would drive international standards towards a global focus.
Communities: Through united networks, we will have united communities. The unity comes as a result of the availability of group communication tools like mailing lists and newsgroups. With this, local communities can organise themselves in virtual space and keep close contact, become more organised and empowered. There is also an internet impact on individual communication, enabling isolated people to establish relationships with others through cyberspace.
Virtual realities: The application for virtual reality will reflect the natural world, and have flexibility, and have speed compared to the digital world.
Future internet must be flexible, dependable, sustainable, manageable, and scalable. Apart from the features, the following functions are expected of the future internet.
Future internet must gain trust from society as it is expected to manage and operate critical infrastructure (Meikle, 78).
It should also provide a bridge that connects the physical and virtual worlds to provide cohesion between the two.
It must support pervasive computing evidenced by the movement from wireless to supercomputers and develop a clean slate approach that would overcome internet ossification. However, there are threats to the future internet, as considered by the rapid growth and affordability of internet. These threats include;
- Limited access to information content and services of the sites. Service providers would start charging for viewing of information, which could hinder visitations to most sites, as well as isolate rural areas, and regulate what can be viewed over the net.
- Increased government control. There are current government control over the internet, especially through censorships like in China and Malaysia. This control would threaten future internet as there will not be freedom of expression.
- Limited IPV6 deployments, as it is incompatible with IPV4.
- Lack privacy. With the current concerns of privacy over the net, what would happen once it is free, common and accessible anywhere.
- An increase in security threats on the net. This is more so with the hackers. As technologies develop, hackers also become sophisticated, as well as an increase in cyber space.
Global concerns over the future of internet have seen many governments form initialises to improve the current internet and make it useful in the future life. FIND: Future Internet design, and GENI: Global Environment for Network Innovation are some of the Initiates launched in the USA, while Photo tonic Internet Forum exists in Japan, and Korea’s Future Internet forum are all notable initiates in the development and maintenance of future internet. Globally, there are notable initiates like the International Activities of the internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), and Internet Research Task Force, (IRTF). In order to build a common European view and tightened Europe’s participation on the future internet campaigns, the European Commission has offered recent proposals to form a Future Internet Assembly, (FIA). This is a collaboration of close to one hundred and fifty projects that are in different countries and was formed in May 2008. The FIA hosts Bi annual conferences to share information on internet developments in different countries, it develops systems for future internet, holds international collaborations with countries like Japan, Korea, and any other country with similar initiatives like the Future Internet PPP, the FIA makes regular publications on future internet.
FIA is opened to all researchers with interest in Future internet. The projects that collaborate with FIA are all part of Challenge 1 of FP7, an ICT program specialising in Internet research. They are also advancing internet state of the rt through Future networks, cloud computing considerations of socio-economic factors for future internet, and trustworthy ICT. The Assembly is structured to allow open interactions and work towards attaining the visions, preventing challenges and developing roadmaps for future internet development and research.
Global Internet relies heavily o the Domain Name System, (DNS), which provides the “.com, .eu, and .org” slots, and managed by the Internet Corporations for Assigned Names and Numbers, ( ICANN). The ICANN has become de facto, raising concerns over the management and future of internet, especially with the reliance on DNS. Because of these, there is likelihood that there would be increased development of Object Naning Service, (ONS). ONS allows connection to the internet just like computers, for objects and sensors, and could be used to retrieve information from the same objects (Zitrain, 321).
With the above information, we can therefore conclude that the future of free internet is promising. There are obvious concerns over the future of the internet, seeing by number of initiatives and civil society activisms happening globally. Government censorships on internet will soon be a thing of the past once initiatives, movements and protests are improved to prevent it. As much as there are concerns over the future of internet, there are also positive hopes especially to what extend it would be used. There are already places offering free internet and we hope that the current movements help in a achieving a global free internet for all.