Gartner vice president Steve Prentice came to Computer Weekly's office to discuss the future of the internet. He is speaking to CIOs about what happens if the internet changes radically. "We now treat the internet as a utility - rather like electricity," he said.While people pay internet service providers fro internet access, much of the content is free and then there is the cost of the physical infrastructure ie the cabling, network switches, domain name servers etc.Cloud computing, 3G, 4G, smart meters and the internet of things all rely on a pervasive internet.
But what if is not there anymore, or, like in China, countries block or control access? Prentice does not have any answers, nor is he making predictions as to when the internet will start unraveling.
But it is something businesses and governments should consider. Developing internet-enabled products may seem like a great idea today, but what would happen if the internet evolves into walled gardens: a Microsoft internet; a Google internet; an Amazon internet?
It all boils down to the net neutrality debate. As Computer Weekly has reported, at least 20% of broadband users and up to half of mobile internet customers have contracts allowing their providers to restrict certain services, such as VoIP or file-sharing.