Imagining the Internet Project

  Responses in reaction to the following provocative future scenario were assembled from a select group of internet stakeholders in the 2006 Pew Internet & American Life/Elon University Predictions Survey. The survey allowed respondents to select from the choices "agree" or "disagree" or to leave the scenario unanswered. Respondents were encouraged to provide a written elaboration to explain their answers; they did not always do so, but those who did provided richly detailed predictive material. Some respondents chose to identify themselves with each answer; many did not. We share some - not all - of the responses here. Workplaces of respondents whose reactions are shared below are attributed here only for the purpose of indicating a level of internet expertise; the statements reflect personal viewpoints and do not represent their companies', universities', or government agencies' policies or positions. Some answers have been edited to share more respondents' replies. This is a selection of the many carefully considered responses to the following scenario.  
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descriptionScenario One: A global, low-cost network thrives...
By 2020, worldwide network interoperability will be perfected, allowing smooth data flow, authentication and billing; mobile wireless communications will be available to anyone anywhere on the globe at an extremely low cost.

Compiled reactions from the 742 respondents:
56% agreed
43% disagreed
1% did not respond

Below are select responses from survey participants who agreed to be identified with their statements. To read reactions from anonymous participants responding to this question, please click here.

In 15 years, there will be seamless technology with superior security and bandwidth to what we have today. Applications forwireless portability and faster access will drive the demand. – Richard Yee, competitive intelligence analyst, AT&T; internet user since 1995

The Internet will have gone beyond personal communications - many more of today's 10 billion new embedded micros per year will be on the Internet. – Bob Metcalfe, Ethernet inventor, venture capitalist and partner in Polaris Venture Partners; internet user since 1970

I disagree; profit motives will impede data flow. Although interconnectivity will be much higher than ever imagined, networks will conform to the public utility model with stakeholders in generation, transmission, and distribution. Companies playing in each piece of the game will enact roadblocks to collect what they see as a fair share of tariff revenue. – Peter Kim, senior analyst, Forrester Research; internet user since 1993

Although available, not everyone will be connected to the network, thus continuing the divide between "have" and "have not." – Adrian Schofield, head of research for ForgeAhead and leader with Information Industry of South Africa; internet user since 1994

Mobile internet will be dominant. By 2020, most mobile networks will provide 1Gbit/s minimum speed, anywhere, anytime. Dominant access tools will be mobile, with powerful infrastructures characteristics (memory, processing power, access tools), but zero applications; all applications will come from the Net. – Louis Nauges, president, Microcost, France; internet user since 1990

A low-cost network will exist. The question is how interconnected and open it will be. The question is whether we drift toward a "reintegration" of content and infrastructure. – David Clark, chief protocol architect during the development of the internet in the 1980s, senior research scientist at MIT; chairman of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Research Council; internet user since 1975

No, new technologies requiring new standards will ensure that (1) interoperability remains a problem and (2) bandwidth will always be used up preventing smooth data flow. Billing will remain a problem in some parts of the world because such monetary integration is inextricably political. Mobile wireless will be available most places but high quality/speed/reliability will always be only available at a premium. – Bruce Edmonds, Centre for Policy Modelling, Manchester Metropolitan University; internet user since 1992

This is the direction that technology and economics and markets are moving. However, the desire by large owners of telecommunications pipes (e.g., cable companies, dsl providers) to control traffic (i.e., by disallowing bits they don't approve from traveling on their part of the network) could balkanize the Internet. – Howard Rheingold, internet sociologist and author; internet user since 1990

While the society as a whole would be likely to benefit from a networking nirvana, the markets are unlikely to get there by 2020 due to incumbent business models, insufficient adoption of new cost compensation methods, and insufficient sociotechnical abilities to model human trust relationships in the digital world. – Pekka Nikander, Ericcson Research, Helsinki Institute for Information Technology; internet user since 1987

We tend to overestimate how fast technology gets installed, especially in third world countries. One is tempted to say yes to this idea, given the tremendous profusion of cellular over the past twenty years or so. But it is far too optimistic. If one limited this to first- and second-world countries, the answer would be more clearly "yes it will happen." – Craig Partridge, internet pioneer, chief scientist BBN Technologies; internet user since 1983

By 2020 the costs for connectivity will be rolled into the costs of the real products and services. For example, the connectivity cost for making a restaurant reservation online will be borne by the restaurant. A few nations (or cities) may choose to make smooth, low-cost, ubiquitous communications part of their national industrial and social infrastructure (like electrical power and roads). Others (and I'd include the United States here) will opt for an oligopoly of providers that allows for limited alternatives while concentrating political and economic power. Individuals and businesses will provide local enclaves of high quality connectivity for themselves and their guests. A somewhat higher cost "anywhere" (e.g. cellular) infrastructure will be available where governments or planned communities don't already include it as an amenity. I believe that the Internet will not be uniform in capability or quality of service in 2020: there will be different tiers of service with differentiated services and pricing. For example, there might be a social "safety net" (yes, that's a pun) of low- or no-cost service whose packets hide in the interstices of higher-priority, higher-paying traffic. – Glenn Ricart, Price Waterhouse Coopers; former program manager at DARPA and internet pioneer; member of the board of trustees of the Internet Society; internet user since 1968

Mobile wireless communications will be very widely available, but "extremely low cost" makes economic assumptions about the back sides of mountains in Afghanistan and the behavior of entrepreneurs in Africa. Also, the concept of anything on earth being "perfect" is just short of ludicrous. Interoperability will have improved, but I seriously doubt that it will ever be perfect. The Internet thrives today because it enables the deployment of new applications from the edge without operational support or intervention at a reasonable cost. If in 2020 this is no longer true, I believe that the Internet as we know it will no longer be a viable communication vehicle, and that other varieties of networks will replace it. So, yes, I suspect that there will be a global low-cost network in 2020. That is not to say that interoperability will be perfect, however. There are various interests that have a vested interest in limiting interoperability in various ways, and they will in 2020 still be hard at work. – Fred Baker, CISCO Fellow; chairman of the board for the Internet Society (ISOC); internet user since 1987

As a stubborn optimist/idealist, I HOPE this will be true. However it will only occur to the extent that the power and greed of massive private-sector conglomerates can be held in check, and the desire of governments to censor and control content can be restrained. It will obviously vary wildly, between nations. Also, one advantage that poor nations have, is that they often have no established infrastructure that will be threatened. – Jim Warren, founding editor of Dr. Dobb's Journal, technology-policy advocate, futurist; internet user since 1970

This depends on technology standards exceeding the self-interest of proprietary network owners, like mobile operators, cable and telephony network owners, and so forth. So timing is still open, but most likely by 2020. – Stewart Alsop, investor and analyst; internet user since 1994

A significant reduction on the digital divide only will take place in a new international environment, with a genuine multi-sector cooperation. We don't have a landscape like that now. In absence of that commitment, we will see an irregular and inequitable development of the wired and wireless resources. – Raul Trejo-Delarbre, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico; internet user since 1993

The problem of the digital divide is too complex and the power of legacy telco regulatory regimes too powerful to achieve this utopian dream globally within 15 years. – Ian Peter, Internet Mark II Project, Australia; internet user since 1986

A ubiquitous network environment more closely integrated in our daily lives will need to be much more flexible than the internet and adapt better to national cultural, political (regulatory) and economic norms. This is evident because communications technology is moving much faster than human beings can adapt to it. Much of the content control, authentication and billing paradigms to emerge are likely to be driven by cross-border audio-visual content delivery over broadband networks. This is happening at the same time as convergence is setting two regulatory cultures on a rapid collision course: the highly-interventionist regulatory culture of broadcasting and less interventionist (at least with regard to content) culture of telecommunications. Draft audio-visual policy legislation in both the EU and the US is grappling with how current rules for broadcasting should be applied in an always-on broadband environment. Traditionally, the regulation of audio-visual industries is culturally embedded and tied to national regulatory regimes consistent with cultural and religious values. Issues that must be addressed include advertising, content diversity, licensing, quality, decency and protection from abusive uses. Where broadband platforms and global service providers show declining respect for national boundaries, what will become of public broadcasting, support for national content production and community standards? Cross-border tensions on audio-visual policies will continue to rise in importance and with the ineffectiveness of national regulatory regimes to deal with them, there will be a bigger push for both "national walled gardens" and international cooperation. – Robert Shaw, internet strategy and policy advisor, International Telecommunication Union; internet user since 1987

"Anywhere on the globe to anyone" is a tall order - I think it more likely that 80% of the bandwidth will be with 20% of the population. – Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder and director, Berkman Center for the Internet and Society, Harvard University, and a top forum administrator for CompuServe

While we think of a portable radio with batteries as possibly the lowest cost medium, there are a lot of people who cannot afford this, or, as in Uganda, men take the batteries so their wives cannot use the radio (reflect-action.org is he source). I also worry about the problem of net neutrality balkanizing the U.S. Internet, the walled gardens of the telco mobile services, and of course the Chinese setting up their own domains. However, in spite of these barriers more people will be using the internet on a global basis, but I can't forecast the percentage. – Steve Cisler, former senior library scientist for Apple, founder of the Association for Community Networking, now working on public-access projects in Guatemala, Ecuador and Uganda; internet user since 1989

The network might not be perfect, but it will certainly be widespread. We already have a telephone network which reaches all over the world, and worldwide access to GPS. So it's not too much of a stretch to extend this to wireless. Though there may be artificial barriers at the country level, e.g. China may not interoperate for political reasons, even if it could at a technical level. – Seth Finkelstein, consulting programmer; internet user since 1982

Worldwide interoperability and that wireless will likely be free, at least in some form, to everyone. I don't understand what authentication and billing are doing in that sentence. I think it's perfectly plausible that identifying people reliably is impossible, full stop. As to billing - what if it turns out that the marginal cost of information and knowledge-goods is too cheap to meter? Do we need billing? Couldn't we have blanket licenses, instead? – Cory Doctorow, self-employed journalist, blogger, co-editor of Boing Boing; born in Canada and now based in London; EFF Fellow; internet user since 1987

New networks will be built with more controllable gateways allowing governments and corporations greater control over access the flow of information. Governments will use the excuse of greater security and exert control over their citizens. Corporations will claim protection from intellectual property theft and "hacking" to prevent the poor or disenfranchised from freely exchanging information. – Scott Moore, online community manager, Helen and Charles Schwab Foundation; internet user since 1991

A commercial network will operate tied to individuals credit ratings in the developed world: this means the majority of people will be able to access a seamless, always-on, high-speed network which operates by verifying their ID. However their will be a low-income marginalised population in these countries who will only have access to limited services and have to buy into the network at higher rates, in the same way people with poor credit ratings cannot get monthly mobile phone contracts but pay higher pay-as-you-go charges. More of the world will be connected, but there will be still be black spots in less-developed countries (e.g. sub-Saharan Africa) and government-limited access in less democratic states. – Mark Gaved, The Open University, UK; internet user since 1987

The global economic system is so deeply rooted in the notion of capital exploitation for profit that whatever the technical advances that may lead to interoperability, there will be greater tendencies for the technology to be used in a "fragmented" manner to secure corporate profit. Furthermore, fundamental development issues (health, education, basic amenities) will restrict the capacity of many people to access networks. – Matthew Allen, associate professor of internet studies at Curtin University, Australia; internet user since 1992

"Perfected" and "anyone anywhere" are aggressively ambitious terms and thus the forecast is of a panglossian nirvana that will never happen. But if you had lowered your sights a bit and toned down the optimism, I would have voted yes. My forecast is that we will see neither nirvana nor meltdown, but we will do a nice job of muddling through. In the end, the network will advance dramatically with breathtaking effect on our lives, but we won't notice because our expectations will rise even faster. – Paul Saffo, director, Institute for the Future; Internet user since 1978

This will be true for many people, but not for everyone. – Esther Dyson, editor Release 1.0, investor and adviser to start-ups; internet user since 1985

While costs will come down and accessibility will increase, barriers of literacy - both with written language and technology - will become the greatest barriers to access for "anyone anywhere." – Mike Kent, professor of social policy, Murdoch University; internet user since 1994

A significant percentage of the global population lacks food, water, sanitation, electrical service and the like. Smooth data flow? Who cares? – Edward Lee Lamoureux, professor at Bradley University; internet user since 1986

I doubt that we will achieve perfection by 2020, if ever. The technology may exist to improve things greatly, but there will still be economic barriers. Low-cost (even extremely low-cost) communications technology is still something that will have to be balanced against costs for food, shelter, and other basic necessities. – Scott Hollenbeck, director of technology, VeriSign; IETF director; internet user since 1988

Real interoperability will be contingent on replacing our bias for competition with one for collaboration. Until then, economics do not permit universal networking capability. – Douglas Rushkoff, author and professor at New York University; internet user since 1985

Mobile wireless communications will also be available at an extremely high cost (and all points in between). It will do you no good to have cheap wireless access if you can't live with less than ten gigabits to the desktop. – Fred Hapgood, author and consultant; internet user since 1981

The infrastructure for low-cost communications will be in place. Consumer products, particularly electronics, will be very cheap. But there will be widespread net "brown outs," and gossip and advertising will overwhelm news and public debate. – Marc Rotenberg, executive director Electronic Privacy Information Center; internet user since 1978

The advances in wireless technologies are pretty much a natural consequence of Moore's law. Better computers means more advanced signal processing, and the possibility to harness higher frequencies. More frequencies means an abundant "primary resource", thus natural competition increasing service availability and driving down prices. – Christian Huitema, longtime Internet Society leader, pioneering internet engineer

Technology will make access near global, yet economics will continue to create and even enhance a digital divide. Given that formal and informal learning is enhanced through the Internet, especially broadband, we will see those with access gain even more advantage in knowledge, and the returns to such knowledge; while the low-income and/or rural will fall further beyond. – Ed Lyell, pioneer in issues regarding internet and education, professor at Adams State College; internet user since 1965

Three factors will impede the growth of interoperable networking: political resistance within some countries where elements wish to reduce citizen access; legal/economic issues that cause interoperability and access restrictions in the name of copyright protection, or protection of the underlying ISP's economic interests; and difficulties with authentication and traceback needed to provide access while also preventing fraud and identity theft. – Eugene Spafford, professor and executive director for Purdue University's CERIAS (the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security – a web-based incident-response database); internet user since 1980

There will undoubtedly be "holes" in network coverage even by 2020, in remote parts of the world. In parts of interior Africa or Asia, for example, wireless coverage is likely to remain expensive and spotty, if available at all. – Gary Chapman, director, The 21st Century Project, LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas - Austin, internet user since 1982

The stride of development has been very evident in the time I have been working on the net and related technologies. There is no reason to expect it to slow down but availability will still be a major issue for billions of people. More people will have access but for those who do not the digital divide will grow and they will be left lagging increasingly behind. Some of the reasons will be infrastructure but most will be political restrictions. Centers of power are shifting and transfer of information will be hampered to try to maintain stability. – Amos Davidowitz, director of education, training and special programs for Institute of World Affairs, Association for Progressive Education; internet user since 1994

Mobile wireless communications on the GSM platform will be the universal tool of engagement; even so communications will still be localized in terms of networks and content. - Tunji Lardner, CEO for the West African NGO network wangonet.org; World Bank and UN consultant; internet user since 1988

Well, "nearly" perfected, and available to "almost" everyone. – Reva Basch, consultant for Aubergine Information Systems; internet user since 1973

Yes, I think this could easily happen. Of course, some of the mobile access could be shared access (a la Grameen Phone) but, even so, I would guess that most people in the world could get on the network if they really wanted to by 2020. – Hal Varian, professor at University of California-Berkeley; Google; internet user since 1986

It's hard to fit this one into a Boolean logic, and given a choice I'd select "by and large." Countries where mobile networks are broadly available today and most of those in which that is less the case will likely fit the definition. However, barring a revolution in wireless technology (that would basically flood the entire planet with wireless access) I'm afraid that countries at the poorer end of the spectrum in which most people today have yet to make their first phone call, while they will see improvements in their network infrastructure, will be nowhere near pervasiveness. 2020 is after all only 15 years away, and poverty today has not improved all that much compared to what it was 15 years ago. – Robin Berjon, W3C and Expway; internet user since 1996

At least 30% of the world's population will continue to have no or extremely scarce/difficult access, due to scarcity of close-by services and lack of know-how to exploit the connectivity available. Where there is a network it will indeed be of moderate or low cost and operate smoothly. Security, in contrast, will continue to be a concern at least at "Layer 8" level. – Alejandro Pisanty, CIO for UNAM (National University of Mexico), on ICANN's board of directors and active in ISOC; internet user since 1977

I agree that by 2020 a global network will thrive. However, market conditions may require that the charged cost will still be high for the poor in the world. – V.K. Wong, University of Michigan; internet user since 1981

Network interoperability is only a question of connecting the missing dots to much already existing technology. The world today is already demanding this and that demand and the very use of the technology is creating a forward synergy that will cause it to happen. This will evolve as providers of the integrated services needed to make it happen discover that there is a far greater potential for product and economic growth by working across platforms to cooperate rather than complicate. – Tom Snook, CTO, New World Symphony, internet user since 1967

This statement reflects a continuation of the technology and interoperability development and cost declines already underway and evident. There are numerous examples within the communications industry that serve as an example, but consider that the per-bit cost of optical transport equipment has fallen by over 90% versus only a few years ago. – Jim Archuleta, senior manager, government solutions, Ciena Corporation; internet user since 1989

I wouldn't say "perfected," and I don't know that it will be anywhere on the globe, but I mostly agree we'll see it be much more cheaper and accessible. - Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief, SearchEngineWatch.com; internet user since 1994

Global political pressures from some governments will continue to prevent total, open access to some of the constituents within geographical areas. There will be fewer third-world countries, but the ones that continue to exist will receive help from other countries as they build out their infrastructure. This will probably not be totally complete within this time frame. – Mike McCarty, chief network officer, Johns Hopkins; internet user since 1992

Anywhere? No. Many places? Yes. Some countries will deliberately prohibit wireless Internet communications for political reasons. Others will fall behind (or remain behind) the curve because of business or government telecom monopolies trying to maintain their current cash cows at the expense of new services. Will all these things be technically possible by then? Sure. But deployment is a different issue. – John S. Quarterman, president InternetPerils Inc.; internet user since 1974

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, hence in 2020 there may be a thriving, low-cost network, but those in need of the basics will not be able to use it. – Alan Levin, chairman for ISOC South Africa chapter; serves on boards for Future Perfect Corporation, AfriNIC and .za DNA; internet user since 1994

The key will be the prosumer model where people pay or are paid for content at a microbyte level with some form of economic granularity that ends up a balancing of costs for production and consumption for an individual. – Rich Ling, senior researcher and sociologist, Telenor Research Institute, Oslo, Norway; internet user since 1984

After 15 years there still will be some countries where mobile communication will be unavailable due to economical or political situation. Smooth data flow still requires significant improvements across the countries and network operators in Europe. It would be silly to expect a better situation in Africa in 2020 that in Europe today. – Wladyslaw Majewski, OSI CompuTrain SA, ISOC Polska; internet user since 1989

Not perfected and not perfectly smooth, but certainly more, better and deeper today. The biggest change will come from widespread and reliable identification in and via mobile devices. The biggest source of friction will be copyright enforcement and DRM. There will be much innovation in devices to match form and function, media and messages. – John Browning, co-founder of First Tuesday and former writer for The Economist; internet user since 1989

The technology supporting this kind of development is proceeding at full speed. In addition, there is now a political will in a number of countries to develop electronic medical records (EMR) nationally. It is only a matter of time when EMRs would be accessible worldwide. – Rashid Bashshur, director of telemedicine, University of Michigan; internet user since 1980

By 2020, network communications providers will have succeeded in Balkanizing the existing global network, fracturing it into many smaller walled gardens that they will leverage to their own financial gain. – Ross Rader, director of research and innovation, Tucows Inc.; council member for the Generic Names Supporting Organization of ICANN, internet user since 1991

I live in a so-called "third world" country and I have seen it happening that way. I remember I didn't get to know a conventional telephone until I was 4 or 6, now my 2-year-old already uses the cell phone and the digital camera of the family like any of his other toys. It just seems natural to me that by the time he is my age he will have, what for me is now "the home of future." Five years ago I had neither a digital camera nor a PDA, now I can't live without them! And I crave for wireless anywhere I go. And more important, is not only my imagination, I read at least 20 tech sites daily and all news tends to go that way. The only thing that worries me is the parallel trend of, for example, conventional carriers that push to charge for every single thing related to the use of their connections. – Claudia Cruz, online editor of elPeriodico, based in Guatemala

I wish this were TRUE. And, I want it to be true, and I want all of us to work very hard to make it as true as possible! First of all, we are at 2006, and we need to address connectivity and affordable access still for vast numbers of potential users on the planet Earth. For this vision to be actualized, we need to see a much broader deployment of fixed wireless, not only mobile wireless. Mobile wireless is not a panacea. Those mobile networks have to be connected to broadband networks, and to networks that can affordably connect island states, cross national boundaries in regions that today are still torn by political strife, or war. Oil ministers in some countries are billionaires, while their country lacks connectivity within the country itself for telephony and Internet. I believe we can make major progress, but to say "perfected," is a reach. It should be a goal, and we should understand that mobile communications is part of a solution, not a solution. As to "extremely low rate," that is relative to the country we are talking about. Multiple technologies should be considered as part of a global networking solution. – Marilyn Cade, CEO and principal, ICT Strategies, MCADE, LLC; also with Information Technology Association of America and the GNSO of ICANN; internet user since 1986

I don't see the economic motivation to deploy globally. Substantial parts of Africa and Asia offer little pull. A good comparison is rural America. Even with push from FCC & PUCs, rural America does not have access like the metroplexes. – Willis Marti, associate director for networking, Texas A&M University; internet user since 1983

All aspects of our lives will be connected electronically so that we can pass personal data (music, voice, video) between devices and locations that are important to us. Kids, parents, teachers, friends, workers, colleagues - all of our personal associations will be available seamlessly and ubiquitously. At the same time, all of the traditional media that we access for information will be just as readily available. – Michael Gorrell, senior VP and CIO for EBSCO; internet user since 1994

The internet is a dynamic organism which is simultaneously evolving at every nexus, the "computer," the network protocol, the routers, etc. Complete uniformity and stability are anathema to the evolution of the network. One "improvement" in software at a router can completely disrupt traffic. Fortunately, the systems will become more robust but there will never be a "nirvana" or perfect network. – William Kearns, assistant professor at the University of South Florida; internet user since 1992

I agree that this would be possible but wonder whether the third world and developing nations will really have the wireless communication networks posited by the question. The basics of life must take precedence over the technology in those nations. – Jill O'Neill, director of planning & communication, National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services; internet user since 1986

Network neutrality and corporate control of networks will be major issues. Besides centralized corporate control, nations - China, India, Germany, and other countries - will control what their citizens can see and do online, and in some cases who can get online. – Nicco Mele, U.S. political internet strategist

The digital divide will increasingly apply to communications. You can already see this with the varying degrees of broadband speed available. In the UK broadband is concentrated in the wealthier neighbourhoods. Mobile voice connectivity will be quite widespread, with 3 billion users worldwide - if not more. Universal service may apply to broadband by 2020 but this will be in rich countries only and for a basic degree of connectivity. – Paul Lee, a respondent who chose not to share further identifying information

The actual challenge is about billing issues among countries and currencies as opposed to technical issues, which have already been sorted out to date. – Fabio Sampaio, Brazil; internet user since 1994

I am optimistic. The handheld devices used will become more and more like small computers. I do not believe that AOL's e-mail stamps will have a future. People will want such services for free. Older adults and those with chronic disease will have their vitals automatically monitored. – Sturle J. Monstad, University of Bergen, Norway; internet user since 1989

The internet will continue to grow and more devices (and individuals) will become interconnected. I'm don't think that all aspects of this will be "smooth," i.e., the security issues we are seeing are not easily solved and will not just "go away." However, significant progress towards the goal of a global low-cost network will be achieved. This will be driven by the huge benefits of connecting people together. – Thomas Narten, IBM open-internet standards development; internet user since 1983

I seriously doubt interoperability will be perfected. I think the pace of change will increase and the amount of interoperability will be jagged. Up and down and up and down as disruptive tech comes and goes and is integrated. – Mike Gill, electronics engineer, National Library of Medicine; internet user since 1988

I don't know if it will be perfected but it will be as commonplace as plain-old telephone service used to be. – Christine Haile, chief information officer, University at Albany, New York; internet user since 1988

Technology advances in fits and starts, so yes, networks will be faster and more interoperable, but issues will still remain and even newer technologies come to the fore and need standards and commercial acceptance. And new technologies make possible new threats and annoyances. Who had an issue with email spam 10 years ago? – Joe Bishop, VP education sales, Marratech AB; internet user since 1994

It is merely a case of observing how other mass communications media developed over the twentieth century: initially confined to the financially well-off, and imitating earlier media before finding their own identity, their own language of expression, and their appropriate niches in the socio-economic and cultural fabric of society … and just as cinema did not totally replace theatre, nor did television replace cinema, so electronic networks will never entirely substitute newspapers on paper, telephones or conventional mail … there will simply be more options available … nostalgic people writing hand-written letters, refusing to leave messages on electronic secretaries, and in general doing everything possible to slow life down - "slow food," narrow-band communication, etc. Just like modern buildings stand alongside ancient ones in Japan and other places, advanced networks in 2020 will have to share space with those deliberately choosing slower, simpler means of communication, NOT as a means of protest, mind you, but as a form of savouring experiences. Remember? Somewhere or other T.S. Eliot said something like: "I had the experience, but I forget its significance." Thoughtful people in 2020 will probably use high-speed networks for their everyday communications, but surely will use handwritten and snail-mail-delivered wedding invitations or tasteful thank-you notes for especially-meaningful communications. – Fredric M. Litto, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil; internet user since 1993

This may seem utopian but with due diligence and involvement from an active Internet Community of Users and NFP's it is a possibility that we should aim for. – Cheryl Langdon-Orr, independent internet business operator and director for ISOC-Australia; internet user since 1977

I agree with this statement to some extent. The issue governing whether this happens completely and really "worldwide" will depend on the various telecom carriers and regulators around the world taking the necessary steps to effectively relinquishing control of their in-country networks. This may not be completely practical in developing countries as it will severely impact the revenue model of the incumbent carrier which is typically government-owned. For the "developed" world, this prediction is indeed a reality we may end up experiencing. – Rajnesh J. Singh, PATARA Communications & Electronics Ltd., Avon Group, GNR Consulting, ISOC Pacific Islands; internet user since 1993

Although the potential surely exists to create a global, low-cost network in the next 15 years, the real question is whether or not the systemic conditions promote that behavior. I disagree with this outcome because I believe that the current dominant economic and political systems promote monopoly (or oligopoly) behavior and seek to destroy attempts to provide universal access to benefits of the marketplace while there still may be an extra buck to be made on the market. 15 years is too short a time for this to be overcome without very progressive, broad-based and multi-level political reform and shift in power structures. What will probably be more likely are Internet citizens of a "sub-class" (from the perspective of the current network dominant forces), who will have access and abilities, though perhaps through lower-powered infrastructure. As a response, I predict that current dominant market forces will further alienate themselves from "open and accessible" by creating more proprietary and limited ways of interacting online, continuing their ability to feed on the technology fears and ignorance of some people. – Christopher Johnson, CEO for ifPeople, Inspiring Futures; internet user since 1995

Parts of this statement ring true, that a global network will be implemented that allows connectivity any time, anywhere. However, the prices will remain high enough that only citizens of well-off countries will be able to benefit from this connectivity. Attempts will be made to bring this connectivity to people traditionally without this access, but it will have limited success because of the many other aspects needed to make communications and computing work - access to computing devices, reliable electricity, and training/language issues. Interoperability will not be "perfected," as new innovations stand to make previous network incarnations obsolete. – Philip Joung, Spirent Communications; internet user since 1989

Non-global communication would be an exception. Anyone who expected the airplane to fly just to and from Kitty Hawk, NC, only had modified vision. – Stan Felder, president and CEO, Vibrance Associates, LLC; internet user since 1985

Perfection will not be achieved, but I fully expect high-speed optical links through the air, and software should be more robust. Taxes will have kicked in by then. – Michael Steele; internet user since 1978

While it is probably technically feasible to provide the backbone capacity and local wireless access to achieve this goal, too many incidental barriers exist. There's the question of whether the world economy will support it (I expect disruptions), whether international political affairs will be healthy enough to permit it, and whether the designers of the network can fend off attacks. – Andy Oram, editor for O"Reilly Media; internet user since 1983

Low cost indeed! For all intents and purposes, the network will be free. However, people will subscribe, for a monthly fee, which will provide virtually all sorts of services including all telephone, television, music, radio, games, entertainment, Internet, etc. Advertisement will play a large role in allowing this low cost service, but subscribers will do significant purchasing through this medium as well. – Don Heath, board member, iPool, Brilliant Cities Inc., Diversified Software, Alcatel, Foretec; internet user since 1988

What we are referring to as "worldwide" will, however, mean a large - but not absolutely comprehensive - part of the world. The same occurs now when we say "electricity is available worldwide." – Suely Fragoso, professor, Unisinos, Brazil; internet user since 1994

"Extremely low cost" is relevant. What is small to those in the developed world is expensive to non-elites in the rest of the world. – Barry Wellman, professor and director of NetLab at University of Toronto, Canada; internet user since 1976

While network interoperability may be perfected at a technological level, it is unlikely to lead to smooth data flow, authentication and billing because it is to th advantage of organizations that make money off ot these things to try and maintain monopolies. Likewise, providing wireless communications still requires building infrastructure, and it isn't clear that there will be sufficient funding to develop those networks in all parts of the world, or that satellite technology would come down enough in cost to meet the low-cost scenario. Launching satellites and building infrastructure costs money the third world doesn't have - and private companies work for profit. – Lisa Kamm, has worked in information architecture since 1995 at organizations including IBM, Agency.com and the ACLU; internet user since 1987

Although the network will be widespread, there will still be pockets of poverty where access to the equipment, energy, and knowledge will be limited. A ubiquitous network means ubiquitous electricity, computer equipment, and global literacy. That's a tall order. – Karen Coyle, information professional and librarian; internet user since 1983

There will probably still be segments of the world that will deliberately obstruct true, unfettered interoperability for purposes of controlling the flow of information (e.g. China). – Jim Huggins, associate professor of computer science, Kettering University; internet user since 1989

There will be a global network but have less confidence that it will be low cost, given that access will often be in for-profit hands. I expect consolidation of companies providing access and a correlative increase in prices. – David Elesh, associate professor of sociology at Temple University; internet user since 1983

The real question is what kind of wireless. It seems increasingly inevitable that we will be moving to pricing structures that will require a premium for higher bandwidth. So, ubiquity, but not at speed. – Alex Halavais, assistant professor, State University of New York-Buffalo; internet user since 1984

I doubt the necessary investments will be made in many Africa's countries. I suspect commercial interests will continue to compete for dominance and that we will still have different standards (for example, the European and U.S. global positioning systems) Just trying to use my mobile in different countries of the Caucasus and Eastern Europe convinces me we have significant challenges. – Leigh Estabrook, professor, University of Illinois; internet user since 1978

I doubt the issues surrounding proprietary standards and protocols will exist so long as they provide a perceived economic advantage. I doubt a single mobile data network will operate in Nigeria, East Timor, and Tasmania. In many cases, I expect it will be on the client side (tri-mode phone? Try oct-mode or duodeca-mode) that many of these issues will be addressed, and that many of these solutions will be hacks that try to integrate disparate systems underneath. – Michael Cannella, IT manager for Volunteers of America-Michigan; internet user since 1991

The technical and social conditions for this will most likely exist (and probably long before 2020). However, my hesitation is that I do not see a commitment from national legislatures and from international bodies to control commercial exploitation of networks. For your prediction to come true, global regulation of networks that privileges public good over commercial reward must occur. – Andy Williamson, managing director for Wairua Consulting Limited, New Zealand; internet user since 1990

It will be recognized by all that the velocity of knowledge, like the economic velocity of money will enrich everyone. – Charles Hendricksen, research collaboration architect for Cedar Collaboration; internet user since 1968

To build a system like that you need not only world wide technical solutions delivered by idealistic and perfectly honest providers, you also need world peace, to end famine and free education for all. That is too tough to deliver in 14 years. – Torill Mortensen, associate professor, Volda University College, Norway; internet user since 1991

I'd be extremely surprised (pleasantly, of course), if there were universal access in the world's 50 poorest countries by 2020. – Peter Levine, director of CIRCLE, University of Maryland; internet user since 1993

When you say "anyone anywhere in the globe," you infer that all Internet users will have equal access. That isn't true now, why would we believe that it would be any more the case down the road. There are global disparities in income, geography, infrastructure, etc. that will continue to remain unaddressed. – Christine Ogan, professor, University of Indiana School of Journalism

There will still be a global internet, but intranets (localised networks) will be the core hubs for business and universities, keen to keep their traffic in local bubbles, away from litigation and ever-increasing surveillance. The internet at large will still be the sharepoint, but email and other protocols will be routinely encrypted and prying eyes will have a much harder time in an era of informatic paranoia. – Tama Leaver, lecturer in digital communication, University of Western Australia

With all the research in ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence it is very likely that RFID technology, systems interoperability, ubiquitous information and communication applications, and wireless systems will become part of our everyday lives. I wonder whether they will be available for anyone (since differences between first world and third world countries will not be solved within 15 years), but do believe they will be available to large groups of people worldwide. – B. van den Berg, faculty of philosophy at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; internet user since 1993

Rural communities in developing nations will still lag substantially behind urban dwelling, higher income individuals globally. This is one of the most important gaps that needs to be addressed. – Kathleen Pierz, managing partner, The Pierz Group; internet user since 1985

I agree with parts of this statement, but not all of it. For instance, I think authentication will be improved, but there will always be sophisticated criminals who can "crack" the system for illicit reasons. Additionally, I doubt that mobile wireless communications will be available anywhere on the globe at low cost. There will still be problems in mountainous areas, especially where population density is low. Some regions of the world with low population density will still have limited wireless access (i.e. rainforests of Borneo, Gobi Desert) and it will still be expensive to provide wireless communications over the ocean. – Michael S. Cann Jr., CEO of Affinio Corporation; internet user since 1992

Interoperability won't be perfected, but attempts to regulate the network according to tecos" desire to implement QOS at the network layer will have failed because of international pressure. – Kevin Schlag, director of web development and IT for Western Governor's University, BYU-Hawaii; internet user since 1993

With the current rhythm it gives development and technological innovation is very possible that this is this way. Alone it is necessary to see, for example, the installation of nets WiFi in the area rural of Peru that helps the Peruvian peasants to negotiate its crop. It is a remote and not well communicated area but that thanks to the new technologies it is very competitive inside the domestic economy. - Sabino M. Rodriguez, MC&S; internet user since 1994

While I think it will be better, "perfect" is a pretty strong word. I wouldn't underestimate the tenacity of people who make money from proprietary networks to hang on to them. – Cleo Parker, senior manager BBDO; internet user since 1993

While we will have worldwide network interoperability, we will continue to be plagued by badly or inadequately written and documented software for most other applications. A fundamentalist movement toward rigorously designed, open-source applications might occur if we acknowledge that the lack interoperability of these programs results in a huge drain on productivity. On the other hand, we may just continue to muddle along. – Sam Punnett, president, FAD research; internet user since 1988

Commoditization of telecommunications services, open standards for documents and server operations, and the expectations of access to the Internet and its successors will force businesses, universities, and governments to make this come to pass. While there will be a global, low-cost network, there will also be numerous large, but closed networks attached to the global network. These networks will use their own domain name resolution servers. Both governments working with regional partners and multinational companies in cooperation with each other will develop their own alternative networks to satisfy security and political concerns. – Sean Mead, consultant for Interbrand Analytics, Design Forum, Mead Mead & Clark and other companies; internet user since 1989

The technology may be available but the business interests that drive technology will not be in a position to allow a perfected scenario by 2020. – Nan Dawkins, co-founders of RedBoots Consulting; internet user since 1997

The greatest threat to this scenario is the increasing tendency of the telecom giants to "privatize" the Internet by applying artificial & proprietary cost and access structures in an attempt to drive greater corporate profits. There will never be enough competition in broadband access in the U.S. – Brent Crossland, internet user since 1992

Global inequities are still going to exist in 2020. It is too short a window for a utopian ideal of universal access and use over the globe. By 2020 I believe that high-income users in large cities in rich countries will be able to experience the world this way. The downside is they may assume that's the case for everyone and fail to consider the way this draws more lines between haves and have-nots. What is "low cost" to some is high cost to others. - Caroline Haythornthwaite, associate professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; internet user since 1996

Paranoia about, spam, worms, Trojans and viruses has caused people to look at the impact the Internet is affecting their lives. Allowing more gateways are viewed as intrusive and will be rejected. – W. Reid Cornwell, director of The Center for Internet Research; internet user since 1974

Already the cost of Internet access, and broadband access is decreasing. In other countries governments are working to provide low cost computers and Internet access (India is one example). This lowers the barrier to get online. Interoperability is a necessity, though I'm not sure there will be a time when everything runs entirely smoothly. – Enid Burns, editor at ClickZ.com; internet user since 1994

Copyright and other turf wars such as political censorship will lead to a fractured global information infrastructure. – Richard Forno, principal consultant, KRvW Associates, Infowarrior.Org; CMU Software Engineering Institute; internet user since 1992

Most people will be able to afford some sort of handheld apparatus for communication but the cost of accessing the network will be high in some remote parts of the globe. I live in part of the world that has some of the highest jetstream costs in the world and that is unlikely to change in remote island states, compared to large continental nations. – Barbara Craig, Victoria University; internet user since 1993

It is hard to speculate on this issue, since technology does not exist in a vacuum but is dependent on or rather operates in its social, cultural, and political context. What I think is reasonable to say is that interoperability will be perfected in those parts of the world that will belong to the same political and economic context. This refers both to formal political and economic integrations or neo-colonial conditions which I expect to continue to develop globally. But the growth and advancement of technology will doubtlessly also play a part in a form these relations will take place. – Mirko Petric, University of Zadar, Croatia; internet user since 1996

Aid workers report today that people in remote African villages know the words to the latest rap songs within days of release. This hunger for what is hot will drive following technologies like mobile, facilitated by satellite. High-cost sat-nets will be subsidized by the commercial lines of interest that promote all kinds of brand expansion. Non-profits also will use these technologies to provide services and support as well as to help bridge divides such as the Islamic and Judeo-Christian worlds. The Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, to name one, is working on the first stages of this now. – Michael Reilly, GLOBALWRITERS, Baronet Media LLC, Hally Enterprises, Inc., State University of NY at Stony Brook, Global Public Affairs Institute; internet user since 1972

While interoperability may be perfected, the smooth data flow will not. Content providers will regulate/control/charge for the use of or access to their materials. It will require the establishment of a trusted "digital identity" - a key to the source of information. – Todd Costigan, National Association of Realtors; internet user since, 1985

Internet access will increase in cost by 2020 as the use of video streaming, online games, email, wireless networks, and high-speed access increases and overloads network servers and the Internet network itself. Access to and data transmission through the Internet is a business. By 2020 home users with high-speed access will be charged for bandwidth used, just like electricity or other utilities. – Ted Summerfield, president, Punzhu.com; internet user since 1979

The economic benefits of a connected populace will outweigh other factors. – Janet Salmon, president, Vision2Lead Inc.; internet user since 1985

The technical achievements will come about, but they will only be "low cost" to some people (i.e., those from affluent countries). Due to an enduring wealth gap, many people in developing countries will not be able to afford these services and technical accomplishments. – Ben Detenber, associate professor, Nanyang Technological University

Ahahahahahah! As this has not happened when there was a single controlling force, before 1991 privatisation, how should it happen now? As to the mobile wireless, do we live on the same planet? Are you sure? – Wainer Lusoli, University of Chester; internet user since 1994

I do believe that there will be a global low cost network by the year 2020, if not before. But I think it will also be at least a two-tiered system, maintaining the class divide. – Michael Dahan, professor, Sapir Academic College, Israel; Digital Jerusalem; internet user since 1989

I disagree that it will be at low cost. I believe the relation between living and its respective cost will be almost the same in 2020 as it is today (2006). – Ivair Bigaran, Global Messenger Courier do Brasil, American Box Serviço Int'l S/C Ltda.; internet user since 1994

While we are moving towards virtually ubiquitous low cost wireless communications, we won't get there by 2020 and there will be large populations of poor and disenfranchised groups to which the benefits of technology will not be available. – Benjamin Ben-Baruch, senior market intelligence consultant and applied sociologist, Aquent, General Motors, Eastern Michigan University; internet user since 1980

The general use of the Internet will expand horizontally to include new media (TV, Voice etc.) and that fees that we currently pay for these services will shift to the Internet. – Paul Craven, director of enterprise communications, U.S. Department of Labor; internet user since 1993

With growing data-handling capacity, networking costs shall be low. The incremental efficiency in hardware and software tech shall propel greater data movement across the inhabited universe. – Alik Khanna, Smart Analyst Inc., India; internet user since 1996

Companies will cling to old business models, and attempt to extend their life by influencing lawmakers to pass laws that hinder competition. Also, there will still be poor nations. – Brian T. Nakamoto, Everyone.net; internet user since 1990

Initiatives such as Google WiFi and open communal networks will launch a new phase of connectivity. Billing standards such as PayPal and payment enabled 3G phones will complement credit cards to allow instant micropayments. – Steffan Heuer, U.S. correspondent, brand eins Wirtschaftsmagazin; internet user since 1994

I disagree primarily about the scenarios presumptions about politics and structure. Sure, the technological potential will be there – we're rather close - but the lack of a global society and the dominant capitalistic logic in the existing power structures work against smooth, low-cost availability for anyone. – Stine Gotved, cultural sociologist, University of Copenhagen

From a Western perspective I guess the "availability everywhere at an extremely low cost" prediction sounds possible and very inclusive. In practice, that which is supposed to be inclusive and cost very little is usually quite exclusive and costs a lot (not just financially, but culturally and socially) to those in other parts of the world. The prediction seems a little like "Silicon Valley guilt-ridden idealism," but as I know very little about the actual technology and it's future direction, this answer is based solely on the failure of previous technological claims to meet the then grandiose predictions to reduce the digital divide. But for countries that currently have poor basic telecommunications infrastructure, the idea of a "low-cost" global network seems a little far-fetched - there will have to be great cost in updating/creating the appropriate infrastructure to allow these nations to participate in the global network. – Janine van der Kooy, information management/librarian; internet user since 1997

By 2020 devices for staying connected to the network will encourage people to remain "always on" the network. The low-cost, always-on nature of this network will make it truly transparent...which means that choosing to remove yourself, even for brief periods, may carry penalties that make staying connected a more efficient decision than "opting off." I would look at the challenges of removing yourself from the electric grid in the developed world today as a model for the challenges of removing yourself from the "information grid" of 2020...it is possible, but not a practical decision for the vast majority of humans who are not concerned with day-to-day considerations such as food, shelter, and clothing. – Jeff Hammond, VP Rhea and Kaiser; internet user since 1992

The use of technology, in my opinion, will increase in urban centers but a bigger gap will be created with African countries (no profit there) and Middle East (religious reasons will restrict access to information). - Nuno Rodrigues, 4EMESmultimédia, um ovo a cavalo; internet user since 1992

There may be tiered-access to many of the services, with restrictions being applied to free services. – Suzanne Stefanac, author and interactive media strategist, dispatchesfromblogistan.com; internet user since 1989

Until vicious commercial infighting between competing companies for customers is sorted out with a clear winner, and major shifts in governmental positions take place, 100% interoperability is just a dream. Note also that there is substantial investment in hardware/software on the part of consumers. The decade-old WIN95 platform is still in use. Presence of these legacy systems may also cause adoption lag. The Asian model is seductive in its apparent success (Japan/S. Korea/Singapore) but note these are geographically small countries with concentrated populations, a high level of industrialization and the capital available to invest in infrastructure I do not see this becoming available to anyone, anywhere, as remote and impoverished areas are likely to struggle. The model of the success of cell phones in rural India may yet prove me wrong. – Cath Stoll, internet user since 1982

I am not sure that I completely agree or disagree with this concept. The statement might be true, but what we are going to run into is still the state that we are in due to new emerging technologies that we are not able to predict right now. These technologies will always have a learning curve and a state of disruption until there is a universal adoption. – Jeff Gores, internet user since 1994

The network will be very expensive, and treated as a utility. The Global Network NOW is a mess; in 2020 the small, local operator will be a thing of the past. Where old infrastructure still exists you will find inexpensive, possibly unreliable connectivity. Interoperability depends on Microsoft - almost everyone else is! – Gordon MacDiarmid, lobo.net; internet user since 1988

There will be low-cost, widespread interoperability that will be widely available. Education, language, and values will affect whether and how people make use of this technology. Both voluntary and involuntary groups will specialize and separate by technology used, values, "remembered and selected" demographics, and for competition and cooperation. In some cases the use of differing primary technologies will engender quite different cultures. – Mary Ann Allison, principal, The Allison Group, LLC; internet user since 1981

The rise of proprietary internets will continue, and these secure, robust networks will become the primary means of distributing entertainment and video. The surprise: The Open Source movement will become a cultural and political force, carving out a permanent niche on the free Internet and WWW. While media corporations will attempt to capture and control as much market share as they can leverage, Open Sourcers will survive based on their proven ability to lead by innovation. Mobile wireless communications will be an urban utility, but not something available in all rural areas. – Daniel Conover, new-media developer, Evening Post Publishing; internet user since 1994

I see no way that in a real, commercial world wireless communications (mobile or otherwise) will be available to "anyone anywhere" at an "extremely low" cost, assuming any useful definition of "extremely low." – Walt Dickie, VP and CTO, C&R Research; internet user since 1992

The current cooperative internet will be subsumed by large corporate efforts trying (and succeeding) in controlling the network for profit, to the benefit of only the privileged. – Cary Curphy, operations research analyst, U.S. Army; internet user since 1989

Mobile wireless communications will remain expensive. – Pascal Perin, futurologist, France Telecom; internet user since 1998

Mobile wireless communications may cover the geography consistently. The issues that may still require surmounting is the economic viability, social need for the same in the poorest and furthest regions. The need and potential needs to be translated into reality. – Syamant Sandhir, leader in experience design and implementation, Futurescape; internet user since 1995

By 2020 we'll be lucky to get 50 percent of the world connected. There are many more poor countries and poor individuals who can't afford advanced networking than there are those who can afford it, even with prices likely to come down. – Rob Atkinson, director, Technology and New Economy Project, Progressive Policy Institute; internet user since 1993

Bandwidth will continue to increase, and the cost of sharing it will decrease dramatically over the next decade giving rise to more free wireless initiatives like the one in Portland Oregon. As a result more and more power will shift toward communities that value open standards and cooperation, as opposed to closed networks designed to keep pricing power in the hands of large telecoms. That said, certain governments - possibly China, the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union, the more conservative Arab countries - will step up their efforts to create a segregated Internet in an effort to protect their culture and political systems. – Kerry Kelley, VP product marketing, SnapNames.com; internet user since 1986

The near perfection of technology is an utopist dream that has been with since the beginning of cultural history. But patching, tinkered ad hoc solutions, regional/national/brand interests and simple human egoism in general is the order of technology and design. This will never change, unless suppressed by some kind of political regime that takes control in order to harmonize technology, protocols and formats by brute force. Does anybody want that in order to attain compatibility and smooth operation (even if possible)? No, of course not. Besides the fact that our intellectual capacities do not leave _perfect technology_ only a matter of firm decisions, such a political force would be less prone to admit shortcomings of its choices and refuse to overrule old decisions. Just like any other totalitarian regime. Sure, a lot of technological issues will probably improve in terms of dissemination of services and flexibility of transactions; others will become worse but many will remain unchanged. – Mikkel Holm Sørensen, software and intelligence manager, Actics Ltd.; internet user since 1997

While I do believe that smooth data flow at low prices will be achieved by 2020, I don't think that authentication and billing problems will be solved, nor that mobile wireless communications will be available to anyone, anywhere, at low price. The security problems of creating universal, reliable authentication and billing processes, now that it seems that quantum cryptography and other promises of the future are not the heaven we expected them to be, are only a part of what we have to face. Internet is consistently being regulated by non neutral parts, specifically estates and supranational organizations with agendas of their own, and often contradictory with both the spirit and the needs of Internet culture (being data protection and domain regulations just two examples). It is much more than what it ever was in the short history of the net, a matter of estate policies. Thus it seems that the process will not be a pleasant, easy transition from the current flawed models. As to wireless technology, only liberating broadcasting air that would be possible, and then the problem of ISPs and estate policies comes up against. For global cheap wireless we need a different, more open broadcasting regulation, which we don't have at the moment, and I believe we won't have due to the current obsession with a misguided concept of security. – Miguel Sicart, junior research associate, Information Ethics Group, Oxford University; internet user since 1997

Bandwidth barriers have consistently been removed in the 11 years of the commercial Internet world. There are no obstructions and in fact many change agents insuring that this trend will indeed continue to the point, perhaps well before 2020 that we will in fact see a completely ubiquitous affordable network pipeline. – Kevin McFall, director, Online Products & Affiliate Programs, Tribune Media Services, NextCast Media; internet user since 1984

There will still be people without access to this "perfected" platform. The cost will be nominal except to those who are in extreme poverty, or extreme ignorance. The Internet will not solve those issues. – Gwynne Kostin, director of Web communications, U.S. Homeland Security; internet user since 1993

Interoperability itself will never be perfected since corporate alliances and other proprietary schemes will sector off some Internet services. The government(s) may be the biggest users of such "private" approaches. – Gary Arlen, president, Arlen Communications Inc., The Alwyn Group LLC; internet user since 1982

Interoperability will only occur when those who benefit from the networks believe their value proposition will increase due to interoperability and low cost access. I still believe access providers and content providers will try to hold on to control in order to gain value. – Jeff Corman, government policy analyst, Industry Canada, Government of Canada; internet user since 1995

We're seeing the approach taken by "walled gardens" (like the Well) coming back into play as security threats (and perceived security threats) continue to evolve. I think 2020 is too soon to expect any particularly evened out access of this kind even in the developed world, let alone worldwide. Fits and starts in many places, pockets of utopian technology access, yes; perfect worldwide mobile access, cheaply, for all, not so much. – Caitlin Burke, internet user since 1992

Have corporations ever allowed anything to get nearly free? Will Taliban-like governments, sprouting everywhere, permit open access, smooth data flow? Will the disruptions of the Second Great Depression, caused by any number of near catastrophes that loom - water and fuel shortages, wealth imbalance, bankrupt empire collapse, nuclear bombs, weather gone berserk - open the world to interoperability and smooth, flat-earth flow; or will disaster build walls of non-communication, isolation, and Dark Ages city and nation states? – Scott Keeney, librarian, Albany Public Library; internet user since 1995

There will be some world regions where reality will not be like mentioned on the statement. – Georg Dutschke, Universida Sevilla, Forum Criança, Cortefino; internet user since 1996

Many cultures on earth live outside the potential of a technologically-assisted life style. People who develop these dreams lack real-world experience and perspective. There is no wisdom in their prediction. In an automated world, increasingly, people will spend time undoing automatic transactions. Overall, an automated world lacks a moral compass. If people in Kansas understand this - they are the farthest away from either coast in this example, and cannot participate in an automated world to the levels enjoyed by those who live on both coasts - people in more established and remote cultures have no reason to participate in an automated culture. Broad acceptance of automation has always lagged behind the enthusiasm of early adopters. Implementing the infrastructure in remote cultures lacks a viable business purpose, and why else would the infrastructure be implemented. – Elle Tracy, president and e-strategies consultant, The Results Group; internet user since 1993

The primary winner is this is the global supply chain. As goods and services become global commodities, tracking and managing those assets on a global level will be vital to every link in the procurement and delivery chain. – Alix L. Paultre, executive editor, Hearst Business Media, Smartalix.com, Zep Tepi Publishing; internet user since 1996

With the widespread use of mobile phone technology, the above scenario seems almost certain. Every less developed country I have visited features personal mobile phone use by some of the most humbly employed people. I have seen field workers with phones. Some of this use is status based but much of it seems to be people scrambling to make connections/deals for more income. – Anthony Hurst, teacher at the American Cooperative School of Tunis; internet user since 1990

As a percent of household income data communications including phone, TV and internet will continue to grow in cost. – Rachel Thompson, District of Columbia Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner; internet user since 1986

In all honesty when a person needs to worry about warring tribes, ethnic and religious conflict Web access is and should be a low priority. – Doug Olenick, TWICE Magazine; internet user since 1996

Cultural disparities will always interfere with true global network interoperability, and it would be naive to assume sufficient technological acumen will exist along with the necessary disposable income to assure global access to wireless communication. – Al Amersdorfer, president and CEO, Automotive Internet Technologies; internet user since 1985

Economies of scale make this possible, and will dramatically increase in the years to come. The "tipping point" in many countries has already been reached; as networks move to other countries they, too, will reach and exceed that point. – Jeffrey Branzburg, educational consultant for National Urban Alliance, Center for Applied Technologies in Education and other groups; internet user since 1997

By 2002 there will still be many blind spots on this planet, many areas ill covered with low capacity networks and more importantly still a majority of people with no resources nor education that permit use of ICT. The "extremely" low cost will still be excessive for many people. – Michel Menou, professor and information-science researcher; born in France, he has worked in nearly 80 nations; internet user since 1992

There will always be " a better way" and, as such, competing groups will be creating the "casette and 8-track" players. The competition will get to the point where one takes market share and becomes the new standard. There are too many bureaucratic agencies and the world governments that will work too slow at resolving differences. – Terry Ulaszewski, publisher, Long Beach Live Community News; internet user since 1989

I have two reasons for disagreeing with the proposal that worldwide network interoperability will be perfected by 2020. The first is that there are too many competing corporations involved, the majority of which do not see the interoperability of their products with those of other corporations as a significant goal. The corporate interest is directed towards tying customers to their brand, which is opposed to the interoperability agenda. This may be overcome in the long term, but not by 2020. The second reason for disagreement is that of the existence, or lack thereof, of communications infrastructure to cover the majority of the world. In Europe, North America, Japan and maybe Australia and New Zealand the infrastructure issue is not a problem. In South America, Africa and Asia there is a huge gap between the reality and the ideal. – Robin Lane, educator and philosopher, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil; internet user since 1990

There is money to be made from a smooth, global data flow so I suspect it will happen. As to consequences? I doubt they will be favorable to a smooth, global flow of compassion or equality. – Leslie-Jean Thornton, researcher and educator, Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, internet user since 1985

Government security, scammers and greedy content aggregators will keep the internet from developing into an integrated technological community. – Martin F. Murphy, IT consultant, City of New York, internet user since 1993

A global network will thrive. However I certainly do not believe it will be low-cost. It is beyond commercial industry to ignore such an integral and popular vehicle such as the Internet and not exploit it. – Rick Gentry, acquisition coordinator, Greenpeace; internet user since 1995

While I think the technology exists for such a network, I don't believe politics and business will allow it to work. The U.S. is a prime example where the expense of cell phones is far above that of other countries and the extent of the network is much less. This is primarily due to the fact that businesses have competing standards and are unwilling to open their networks up to subscribers of other networks without charging considerable roaming fees. In places such as Europe and Australia there is one common system and it works much better. I suspect we will have the same issues with a data network. – Rangi Keen, software engineer, Centric Software, internet user since 1989

 

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