In the beginning, the Internet Protocol’s job was to form a network of different kinds of networks by ignoring properties that were not shared by all. Thus the original Internet sent packets, and that’s about it. All Internet applications were done at the edges. Meanwhile, network service providers like telephone companies (and, in the U.S., cable TV companies) had long established a vertical business model whereby fees paid for their applications, i.e., telephony (or television), subsidized the operations of the network.
As the Internet becomes more capable, Internet telephony, Internet TV and other applications are causing the old network service providers to lose revenue. Extrapolating revenue trends to their logical conclusion, we can foresee the severe weakening of the operators of today’s Internet infrastructure. This raises the question, who will operate the Internet? The speaker presents four scenarios, Telcotopia, Competition, Re-Regulation and Customer Owned Networks, as a sample of plausible alternatives for the Internet’s future.