What's so special about the Internet? (2022)


17 May 2001 - World Telecommunication Day
The Internet: challenges, opportunities and prospects

The advent of the Internet has been variously described asbeing as important for society as the development of the personal computer, the telephone oreven the printing press. Yet, it is difficult to explain to those who have never used theInternet how it has the power to change lives, to create new businesses or to bring far-flungfamilies closer together. For those who have started to use the Internet, and have gone beyondthe initial frustrations associated with using any new technology, the Internet can do all thesethings and more.

But what can the Internet do for those regions of the world that have traditionally had onlylimited access to information and communication technologies? In theory, it can broaden andenhance access in developing nations because it offers a relatively cheap, versatile andtechnically efficient service that complements standard telephony. Furthermore, the Internet canallow businesses from developing nations to "leapfrog" into the development mainstreambecause Internet commerce will allow them to sell their wares and their services directly tocustomers. The Internet also offers considerable promise in facilitating the delivery of basicservices, such as health and education, which are unevenly distributed at present. In thisutopian view, the Internet is a way of levelling the playing-field and rendering the traditionaldisadvantages of the developing world—distance from markets, under-invested basicinfrastructure, under-utilized capacity etc.,—less onerous.

But how realistic is this viewpoint? As with other new technologies, the Internet has thepotential to support development activities, but, at the same time, it poses serious challengesand threats to pre-existing institutions. Is there, for example, a possible "cost" ofthe Internet for the public telecommunication operators (PTOs) of developing countries? Insituations where resources are limited, are hospitals or schools in developing countriesjustified in paying for an Internet connection?

1. What is so special about the Internet?

To address the question of what makes the Internet special, it is useful to consider aclosely related question: what makes the Internet different from other telecommunicationservices, such as those which run over the public switched telephone network (PSTN)? There arearguably a number of differences.

Underlying technology: Both the Internet and the voice telephone network runover essentially the same wires but the equipment attached to those wires, and the use made ofthem is different. On the Internet messages are broken down into digital "packets" ofdata which means that the wires can be used much more efficiently, to carry a much higher volumeof information, at a lower cost.

Pricing: The PSTN has traditionally been priced on the basis of usage. Bycontrast, the dominant pricing principle for the Internet is flat-rate pricing. The model forwholesale pricing differs too. A service provider terminating a particular telephone callreceives a fee for doing so. By contrast, on the Internet, there is almost no flow of cash on anend-to-end basis. On the telephone network, developing countries are net recipients of financialflows, but on the Internet they make net outpayments, for carriage of their traffic.

Traffic flows and value flows: In most telephone calls, the traffic flow isapproximately even between the caller and the called party. But with web-browsing, the trafficflow is highly asymmetric with the main flow being towards the party which originated the call,who also gains most value from the call.

US-centric: Whether measured by the location of Internet users, websites or thedirection of traffic flows, the United States takes the lion’s share of the Internet. This isreflected too in the policy-making process in which all major decisions have, until now, beeneffectively taken in the United States.

Pace of diffusion: While it took the telephone close to 75 years to reach 50million users, it has taken the World Wide Web (WWW) only four years to reach the same number(see Figure 1). On the supply side of the equation the number of international carriers grew tomore than 1’500 in 1999, but this is still a long way behind the estimated 17’000 InternetService Providers (ISPs) that have mushroomed around the world.

Figure 1: Internet growth: No longerexponential, but still mightily impressive
Compound annual growth rates, 1990-98 and number of years to reach 50 millionusers

What's so special about the Internet? (3)What's so special about the Internet? (4)

Note: The growth rates shown are annualizedrates.
Source: ITU World Telecommunication Indicators Database, Internet SoftwareConsortium, Compaq, RIPE.

2. Internet in developing countries

On a global scale, Internet growth has been littleshort of phenomenal. The network has increased from 213host computers and several thousandusers in August 1981 to more than 56 million Internet hosts by July 1999 (Figure2, leftchart) supporting an estimated 190 million Internet users. Perhaps even more impressive is thenumber of countries connected to the global network. From just over twenty in 1990, there weremore than 200 nations connected by July 1999. Though these figures are impressive, a closer lookat Figure 2 (right chart) reveals the great disparities in Internet hosts between high and lowincome regions. For example there are almost as many hosts in France as there are in all ofLatin America and the Caribbean, there are more hosts in three highly developed countries of theAsia-Pacific region (Australia, Japan and New Zealand) than all the other countries in theregion combined and there are more hosts in New York than in all of Africa.

Figure 2: Growing but still unequal
Installed base of Internet hosts, January 1991 - July 1999, and distribution byregion, July 1999

What's so special about the Internet? (5)What's so special about the Internet? (6)

Note: In the left chart, data refer to Januaryof the following year. A new method was used to calculate Internet hosts fromJanuary 1998 onwards. Data were adjusted, based on the new methodology, from January1995. * LAC = Latin America and the Caribbean.
Source: ITU. Internet host data adapted from Internet Software Consortium<http://www.isc.org > and RIPE < http://www.ripe.net >. Countriesconnected data sourced from Internet Society.

(Video) What is the Internet?

The majority of Internet hosts are in developedcountries, suggesting that wealth and education are major factors driving Internet diffusion.Profiles of Internet users confirm that they are, on average, wealthy and educated as well asyoung, urban, and male.

What are the barriers to increased Internet usage? The precise ranking of different obstaclesdiffers, according to the level of economic and social development, but users around the worldare unanimous in finding the price of Internet access to be a major constraint.Internet access prices for end users can be broken down into three components:hardware/software, Internet access provision and telephone service charges. In relative terms,the costs to get connected are much higher in developing countries. While prices may not differdrastically in absolute terms, there is a large gap between high and low income countries whencosts relative to per capita income are considered (Figure 3).

A shortage of infrastructure, notably of telephone lines, is a further bigobstacle to increasing Internet access in developing countries. The high visibility of theInternet and the growing awareness of the importance of Information and Communication Technology(ICT) for socio-economic development is driving policy changes aimed at increasing the supply oftelephone networks. Countries are tackling this problem through a variety of options includinggranting incumbent operators more freedom to reinvest their earnings and attracting freshinvestment from the private sector by selling shares in state-owned telephone companies, and/orby allowing new market entrants.

Availability of content, in an appropriate language also affectsthe diffusion of the Internet. After all if you cannot find content in your language and you donot read other languages, how can you use the Internet? According to research by the InternetSociety, more than 80 per cent of web pages are in English, though only 54per cent ofInternet users have English as their mother tongue. One notable aspect is that the countrieswith the highest levels of access include a large number of islands. The desire to overcomephysical and psychological isolation appears to be a major factor driving Internet usage. Thismay be good news for developing countries, which have often argued that they are economicallyisolated and suffer from a shortage of information.

Figure 3: Absolutely similar, relativelydifferent
Monthly Internet access prices for the OECD, August 1996and Africa, July 1998, US$

What's so special about the Internet? (7)What's so special about the Internet? (8)

Note: Monthly access charge includes telephonecall charges.
Source: OECD Communications Outlook 1997 and Mike Jensen.

3. Internet for electronic commerce

The concept of electronic commerce (e-commerce) isnot new. However, the rapid rise of the Internet has made the potential of e-commerce morepromising. It is now widely stated that the Internet and e-commerce will transform traditionalbusiness and consumer life. By one estimate, Internet-based sales reached US$43 billion in1998, and are expected to reach US$95 billion in 1999. Most analysts have revised upwardtheir predictions for online business early next decade to between US$1 trillion andUS$3trillion. Growth rates are expected to be particularly high in Asia (Figure 4).

Figure 4: E-commerce revenue projections in Asia
1998 and 2001, selected countries

What's so special about the Internet? (9)What's so special about the Internet? (10)

Source: Left chart IDC, Market Forecastfor Internet Commerce. Right chart IDC, as reported by CommerceNet.

The Internet enhances the possibility fordeveloping and emerging economies to participate in the emerging digital economy. Internet-basedelectronic commerce is likely to promote economic growth and welfare in developing countriessignificantly. New export opportunities should attract new foreign and domestic investment andthereby enhance growth. Most large industrial companies in developing countries already use theInternet, and what is perhaps surprising is that a growing number of small and medium-sizedfirms are also becoming users.

Internet commerce has not penetrated all economic sectorsequally. Sectors with high expected growth rates include: computer hardware and software, realestate, publishing & information services, finance, and Internet services. Tourism which isan increasingly important source of growth for developing countries, also looks set to beboosted by electronic commerce. Analysts estimate that the travel industry accounted for some20-30 per cent of total online revenues in 1997. Online travel sales are expected to grow toalmost US$30billion by 2002. Financial services is another area of great potentialgrowth in the online world and Internet banking is already available in many developingcountries enabling customers to pay bills, check account balances, or transfer funds (see Figure5, right chart).

Figure 5: Online shopping in Argentina andonline banking in Mexico
What people buy over the Internet in Argentina and why theyuse Internet banking in Mexico

What's so special about the Internet? (11)What's so special about the Internet? (12)

Source: Secretaria de Comunicaciones deArgentina and Grupo TeleLink, S.A. de C. V.

What does Internet commerce mean for firms?The benefits of e-commerce are certainly compelling. Internet commerce can substantially improveproductivity by lowering transaction and production costs, facilitating market entry, improvingcustomer service, extending geographical coverage and enabling a new potential source of revenue(Figure 6).Although Internet commerce potential appearspromising, many challenges still remain. Barriers to Internet commerce are to some extent thesame as those for Internet use in general. But several of the challenges are specific toelectronic commerce, and they include the need for a legal and financial framework for Internettransactions and the provision of market access and trade logistics. Developing countries aimingto promote electronic commerce would have to work, on the short term, on the both fronts—i.e.,improving communication infrastructure and accessibility and adjusting the legal, financial, andlogistic conditions to the new requirements of online trade. In the longer term, they would haveto certainly address some of the underlying conditions for global commerce to flourish—such asimproved education and computer skills.

Figure 6: What is good about the Internet?The corporate view
From the perspective of firms in developing countries (leftchart) and global corporate interests (right chart)

What's so special about the Internet? (13)What's so special about the Internet? (14)

Source: Left chart, International FinanceCorporation (IFC). Right chart; Computerworld.

(Video) 1994: "Today Show": "What is the Internet, Anyway?"

4. Internet for health

A young and healthy athlete was brought to thehospital in a critical situation. He was suffering from high fever, weakness and seriousinfection. Laboratory tests confirmed that the infection was necrotising fasciitis(commonly known as the "flesh-eating bacteria"). Urgent amputation of the leg seemedthe only possible solution to stop the process and save his life, until one of the physiciansrecalled seeing an article that referred to new ways of treating limbs infected with necrotisingfasciitis. After a quick consultation in MEDLINE—one of the most important medicaldatabase on the Internet—the doctors were able to find and retrieve the article and apply theprocedure and treatment recommended. The young man was able to save both his life and his leg,and is back in athletics.

Of the 52 million deaths worldwide during 1996, over 40 million ofthem were in the developing world. More than 12 million of them were children under the age offive, most of which died from preventable causes. Many of these deaths could be avoided andseveral of the problems faced by health professionals could be overcome if the adequateinformation was at hand when needed. But, information poverty is one of the most seriousobstacles facing health professionals in the developing world.

For decades, developing nations have been well aware that meetingbasic human needs—such as health and education—is not only essential to the well being oftheir population, but also a prerequisite to any economic development effort. The Internet, dueto its peculiar technological and economic features—efficient digital technologies that candeliver in an interactive and asynchronous fashion data, text, images, and video at a low cost—bringsnew hope to developing nations.

In most developing countries, given the poor infrastructure andinadequate access to computing at both homes and public institutions, the likelihood ofpatient/doctor and/or patient/Internet-site consultation is slim. What is instead viable, andcould have a major impact on health services provided in developing countries, is consultationamong health professionals over the Internet and access by health professionals to Internet-siteconsultation.

In Ginnack, for example, a remote island village on the Gambiariver—two nurses, Rosemary Sturdy and Marlous Kok, combine a digital camera and a laptop todiagnose ailments and keep various sickness at bay in the local community. Sturdy and Kok usethe digital camera to take pictures of visible signs, download them to the laptop and take themto Banjul for examination by a doctor. If the physician needs further evaluation of the images,he/she sends them over the Internet to Global Synergy in the UK where they are forwarded tospecialists from around the world for a diagnosis. Compression software today allows shrinking atypical X-ray image by a factor of 30:1 without loss of information. With this level ofcompression the image can be sent without any difficulty through any existing telecommunicationnetwork.

Information poverty is one of the most serious obstacles facinghealth professionals in the developing world. A typical medical school in the United Statessubscribes to more than 11’000 periodicals, while similar institutions in developing nationsmay have access to less than five percent of that figure. Furthermore, medical knowledge isevolving rapidly. Historically it has taken up to five years for new knowledge to trickle down,even to those in the general profession who are reasonably well connected to international flowof information. Beyond the capital city and large urban centres of developing nations the timelag can, of course, be substantially longer. The Internet cannot only significantly shorten thistime-lag, but it can also open up a whole new range of information resources to healthprofessionals in developing nations.

Poor sanitary conditions in many developing countries contribute tothe emergence and spread of infectious diseases. WHO’s information system on disease eventsoccurring worldwide links all major partners in international response for epidemic control. Theuse of the Internet for the exchange of outbreak information ensures that crucial informationcan be rapidly and widely disseminated to public health officers, ministries of health andhealth professionals in the field. Meningococcal meningitis, for example, occurs inseasonal epidemics in a group of 17 sub-Saharan countries known as the ‘meningitis belt’.During the dry meningitis season, daily reporting of cases is required to monitor an emergingepidemic. When a certain threshold is reached, mass vaccination is required. The informationexchange via the Internet not only allows monitoring of the disease evolution, it also providesessential communication support for planning and mobilization of vaccination teams to bedeployed in affected areas.

The future of health services over the Internet depends heavily onovercoming a number of infrastructural, regulatory, economic barriers. For developed countriesissues such as privacy and confidentiality, licensing, malpractice liability, service paymentsand reimbursements are of high importance. In developing countries, instead, regulatory mattersare still far from being a pressing issue in their health agenda. For many of them, havingaccess to the necessary communication infrastructure at a reasonable cost, and taking theinitial steps to set up telemedicine pilot projects are of most importance. The ITU has beenactive in supporting developing countries achieve both of these goals (see Table 1).

Table 1: Networking health in developing nations
ITU’s Telemedicine Pilot Projects

CountryProjectImplementationdate
UkraineMedical Information Systemfor Ukrainian National Emergency and Trauma Centre in KievOct 97
MozambiqueTeleradiology link betweenhospitals in Maputo (capital) and Beira (second largest city)Jan 98
MaltaTelemedicine link betweenthe islands of Malta and Gozo.Mar 98
UkraineMobile telemedicine servicesfor victims of the Chernobyl nuclear accidentMar 98
GeorgiaTelemedicine link throughInternet for second opinion between Georgia and Switzerland.Sep 98
BhutanTelemedicine link betweenCentral Hospital in Thimphu and a small rural hospitalOct 98
MyanmarTeleradiology link betweenYangon General Hospital and the hospital in MandalayFeb 99
SenegalTelemedicine network betweenseveral hospitalsMar 99
RussiaTelemedicine network betweenseveral hospitalsMar 99

Source: ITU.

5. Internet for education

Education and training are primary determinants of acountry’s prospect for economic and human development and international competitiveness. Oneof the valuable lessons derived from the Asian economic miracle is that the level of educationis one of the single most important factors to explain high economic growth in the past decades.Yet, in 1996, almost 1.5 billion children and adults in the world were illiterate.

Distance education provides learning opportunities to studentsthat, for a number of reasons—geographical distance to centers of education, work schedule,limited financial resources, and the like—would otherwise be excluded from the educationalsystem. From a national perspective the strategy allow for a considerable increase in the numberof educated people—with positive effects on the overall national economy. Furthermore, at theUniversity level distance learning raised the hope of halting the brain drain that mostdeveloping countries suffer when their best educated people move abroad for training and some50per cent of them never return. For the overall educational system of a nation, distanceeducation promises to increase economies of scale and reduce infrastructure costs.

In recent years the number of distance education programs indeveloping countries have been growing at a dramatic pace. So much so, that the six largestdistance learning universities in the world are located in developing countries (see Table 2).

(Video) Andrew Blum: What is the Internet, really?

Table 2: When the Prof. is elsewhere
Largest distance learning universities in the world

CountryInstitutionEstablishedStudentsBudget (US$ m)Faculty
TurkeyAnadolu University1982577’804 [95]301’260
ChinaChina TV University System1979530’000 [94]1.231’000
IndonesiaUniversitas Terbuka1984353’000 [95]215’791
IndiaIndira Gandhi National OpenUniv.1985242’000 [95]1013’652
ThailandSukhothai Thammathirat OpenUniv.1978216’800 [95]463’536
KoreaKorea National OpenUniversity1982210’578 [96]792’840
FranceCentre Nationaled'Enseignement à Distance1939184’614 [94]564’800
UKThe Open University1969157’450 [95]3008’191
South AfricaUniversity of South Africa1873130’000 [95]1283’311
IranPayame Noor University1987117’000 [95]13.33’665
SpainUniv. Nac. de Educación aDistancia1972110’000 [95]1294’600

Note: [Date] refers tothe year for which the data is available.
Source: <http://www.open.ac.uk/ou/news/vc/botsfig2.hmtl>

The results of distance education, however, have beenmixed. In a significant number of cases outcomes have been rather disappointing largely due to:(a) inadequate learner support; (b) a sense of isolation due to the lack of interaction withother students; (c) a focus on correspondence-type programs; and (d) long delays in feedback tostudents needs. With the rise of the Internet, the distance learning experience has beencompletely transformed and many of these barriers overcome. The Internet constitutes a virtualclassroom in which intense interactivity and the sharing of resources and informationconstitutes its essence.

For most developing countries migration to an electronic-based education has come at adifficult time. In most nations the state—that has traditionally been the main financier ofeducation—is facing severe fiscal constraints and retreating from its former directparticipation. But, as national states scale back their financing two other types ofinstitutions are increasing their financial participation in the sector: multilateral lendingagencies and private sector firms. Some of these private institutions in the developing worldhave not only the required cash to bring the power of computing and networking to theireducational services, but have also been quite successful in raising funds in the stock market,as the example of the Education Investment Corporation (Educor) of South Africa, illustrates.The group—which has investments in education and personnel placement—has been experiencing abooming growth in recent years. The education arm employs more than 4,000 faculty to teach to300,000 students registered in its 160 branches. In June 1996 company shares were floated on theJohannesburg stock exchange. Educor's turnover more than tripled from December 1996 to the endof 1997, while operating profits rose by 78 percent in the same period. The marketcapitalization of Educor already exceeds US$433million.

The above experiences show that setting up Internet distance education programmes indeveloping countries is not only conceptually viable, but also practically feasible. Buildingthe required communication infrastructure is generally the easiest and in the long run thecheapest part of the process. What it seems to be much more difficult to achieve—in terms oftime and cost—is the sustained production and supply of content. For a number of developingcountries the "content challenge" might be even larger due to the fact that: (a)content for distance education programs has characteristics unique to the online nature of theservice delivered; and (b) content needs to be suited to local educational needs. In spite ofthe "content challenge", the Internet seem to be set not only to boost traditionaleducational services around the world, but also to transform the way in which we understand andexperience the learning process.

6. Internet for public telecommunication operators

Few parts of the once near-monopoly telecommunicationsmarket are now sheltered from the reach of competition. The twin forces of globalization andtechnological change mean that even in those countries which have not yet licensed additionaloperators to compete, domestically and internationally, against an incumbent PTO, the influenceof competitive markets is keenly felt (see Figure 7). But competition to PTOs in developingcountries is coming from a surprising source. They won't necessarily have been competition tocome in the form of small, local start-up companies, perhaps attached to a university or anon-governmental organization. And yet this is frequently the nature of ISPs, at least in theirearly years. One of the distinguishing features of the Internet is that the barriers to marketentry are relatively low. This matters to PTOs because it means that it becomes possible forlots of new, small companies, without an established user base to defend and investment scheduleto depreciate, to enter the market.


Figure 7: Competitive markets set the rules

Percentage of international traffic open to competition, 1990-2005, andpercentage of economies permitting competition, by service, 1999

What's so special about the Internet? (15)What's so special about the Internet? (16)
Notes: In the leftChart, the percentages for 1998 and 2005 are based only on those countries whichhave made specific commitments under the World Trade Organization's BasicTelecommunications Agreement. Thus they most likely reflect underestimates of thetrue market picture.
Source: ITU Direction of Traffic and Regulatory Databases. ITU "Trendsin Telecommunication Reform, 1999".

The Internet business also lends itself very easily tobeing combined, or bundled, with other services. Thus the typical ISP may already be establishedin a related field, such as software distribution, local cable/satellite TV, video rental. Butof the many services offered, the one which presents the biggest dilemma to PTOs is InternetTelephony. On the one hand, it promises to reduce the price of international telephone calls forthe citizens of the country. But on the other hand, IP Telephony could be viewed as a TrojanHorse, which threatens to undermine the pricing structure of the incumbent PTO and undercut itsprofitable business in originating and terminating international calls. In so doing, IPTelephony might threaten the ability of the PTO to invest in extending the domestic network andmeeting its Universal Service Obligations (USOs).

IP Telephony does indeed prevent a major challenge to developing country PTOs but one whichthey would be better advised to embrace rather than to ignore. The fact that IP Telephony isstill in its infancy and occupies only a tiny percentage of total internationaltelecommunications traffic means that developing countries have some time to prepare a strategyto deal with it when it becomes a real threat, as it surely will. Some elements of the strategymight include the following:

  • Ensuring that settlement rates are, to the extentpossible, aligned with cost trends so that the margin which IPTelephony trafficenjoys over incoming PSTN traffic is minimized;
  • Minimizing the gap between settlement rates withdifferent correspondents and renegotiating any remaining sender-keeps-all arrangementsto remove any possible ‘backdoor’ for IP Telephony traffic;
  • Negotiating with foreign PTOs to share the cost ofinternational leased lines used for IP traffic;
  • Developing regulations and policy documentsexplaining clearly the status of IP Telephony and, as appropriate, establishing atimetable for full liberalization of the market;

7. To regulate or not to regulate?

Perhaps no issue divides the Internet community as much asthat of Internet regulation. To some, the Internet is simply a new method of communicating anddoing business and, as with all such advances, the regulatory framework will need to be adaptedand altered. To others, the Internet is a new frontier that was expressly created to operate andfunction without government interference.

Regulation of Internet content is one of those areas in which the public insome countries have been strongly against. On the other hand, there appears in some cases alegitimate concern as to, at a minimum, the appropriateness of certain content which istransmitted over the globally-accessible, and thus influential, Internet. In dealing with thismatter, some national administrations are developing policies which mix restrictive legislationwith the promotion of industry self-regulation. In Malaysia, for instance, new legislationdebated in Parliament prohibits ISPs from distributing "content which is indecent, obscene,false, menacing, or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass anyperson". Nevertheless, a "content forum" (which may be an industry body) will beestablished to prepare a "content code", including "model procedures for dealingwith offensive or indecent content", "restrictions on the provision of unsuitablecontent" and "methods of classifying content."

Copyright law and policy is an important component of the debate over content.Copyright laws attempt to balance a number of interests. On the one hand, the creators of worksand the holders of rights to intellectual property are entitled to incentives and compensationfor use of their works, and for protection against unauthorized uses. On the other hand, thedistributors and users of created works seek affordable and easy access to copyrighted material.Historically, it has been the view of some observers in developing countries that the existingcopyright regime protects the interests of the developed countries while unfairly restrictingthe flow of information and works to poorer countries and their citizens.. Proponents of thisview have been particularly reluctant to continue and extend the traditional copyright approachto the Internet, since they view the Net as perhaps the last and best opportunity to ensureequitable access to the information needed for social and economic development.

Privacy over the Internet, another issue that usually falls under thesurveillance of regulators, seems to be more of a concern to developed countries than todeveloping ones. Infrastructure deficiencies, poor network performance, and the cost of servicesseems to override privacy concerns in many developing nations.

(Video) The Internet Is NOT What You Think It Is!

A common theme that runs through any discussion of Internet regulation is that of jurisdiction.In the face of a global phenomenon, procedures that avoid disputes concerning the reach ofnational laws take on a new dimension and also challenge the potential effectiveness of Internetlaws. The global nature of the Internet, and the fact that ISPs, content providers, users andservers, often located at different places around the world, are brought together momentarily byan "electronic encounter", renders it problematic for the courts of one country toexercise jurisdiction over an Internet party that is located in another jurisdiction. In spiteof this, national courts have shown some willingness to extend their jurisdiction into variousaspects of the Internet for sites located in a different jurisdiction.

Finally, while the Internet has often been viewed as the very essence of a free and openmarket, recent trends towards concentration indicate that maybe competition policyauthorities will need to take a closer look. In the backbone market, the top three providerscontrol more than 70 per cent of the market while the market leader in the retail serviceprovision business, AOL, has more subscribers than its top ten competitors worldwide addedtogether. While the Internet may indeed be "special", it is not immune from thetendencies towards oligopoly that exist in all industries.

8. A policy toolkit for Internet development

What comes next? While predicting new trends on theInternet is always a hazardous business, the next logical step in the evolution of the Internetis almost certainly towards true multimedia, including real-time video, audio, animation effectsand interactive applications such as telephony or video-telephony. The bandwidth requirements tosupport multimedia applications are an order of magnitude greater than even those necessary tosupport web-browsing. But nevertheless, one can already see the potential demand for this newtype of service.

But this stage in the evolution of the Internet, if indeed it does come to pass, potentiallycarries the seeds of destruction of the usefulness of the Internet for other purposes. In termsof bandwidth requirements, the impact of multimedia applications will be to web-browsing whatweb-browsing was to email. In other words, unless there is a radical improvement in theperformance of the Internet and the capacity of its backbone networks, then multimedia trafficcould bring other applications to a grinding halt. The ‘tragedy of the Internet Commons’ isthat one person’s rotating .GIF file, is another person’s ‘world wide wait’. Ifbandwidth were universally available, sensibly priced, and in abundant supply, then this wouldnot be a problem. But bandwidth continues to be a scarce and expensive commodity, particularlyin the developing world. Unless sensible policies are developed to price bandwidth and Internetaccess appropriately, then a multimedia Internet will remain an inaccessible dream in manycountries.

What steps should policy-makers in developing countries take to ensure that the benefits ofthe Internet are as widely distributed as possible?

To promote the industry

  • Demonstrate support for Internet applications at thehighest levels of government;
  • Promote an active public awareness campaign;

To build infrastructure

  • Increase private sector participation;
  • Open up the basic telecommunications market to awider range of players and investors;

To expand access to infrastructure and services

  • Permit special tariffs designed to promote Internetservices carried over the PSTN, such as lower prices for a second line, or unmeteredlocal calls for a fixed monthly subscription charge;
  • Promote the use of Telecentres and other means toextend access to under-served communities;

To promote growth of Internet access market

  • Promote competition in the Internet service provisionmarket;
  • Monitor, and if necessary intervene, to ensure thatleased line prices, especially for international service, are cost-oriented;

To promote production of local content

  • Create and enforce a legal framework to protectintellectual property and copyright;
  • Consider providing grants and demonstration projectsto aid local content production at initial stages;

To stimulate usage

  • Ensure reasonably priced access for schools,universities, libraries and other public service institutions;
  • Provide all citizens with a virtual e-mail address.

This text is extracted from Challengesto the Network: Internet for Development. This report explores the current andlikely impact of Internet development in a number of areas of social and economicconcern, such as commerce, health, and education. It also analyzes the features thatmakes the Internet different from existing communication services as well as itscurrent diffusion status around the world. Finally, the report explores the Internet’spotential impact on the PTOs of developing countries and highlights some of theregulatory challenges posed by the unique nature of this new and revolutionarytechnology. To obtain a copy of this report, see the ordering instructions.

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FAQs

What are the special features of internet? ›

It uses the Internet protocol suite to link devices located in different corners of the world. The Internet system carries an extensive range of information resources and services including World Wide Web (WWW), telephony, electronic mail, etc. It uses standard internet protocols, such as TCP/IP and HTTP, etc.

What is the most benefit of internet? ›

Using the Internet has many benefits, including having the access to information. In addition, the Internet allows people to communicate quickly and easily. As we said, the most important advantage of using the Internet is the ability to access the global source of information.

What are 4 benefits of the Internet? ›

What are the advantages of the Internet?
  • Connectivity, communication, and sharing. ...
  • Information, knowledge, and learning. ...
  • Address, mapping, and contact information. ...
  • Selling and making money. ...
  • Banking, bills, and shopping. ...
  • Donations and funding. ...
  • Entertainment. ...
  • Work from home, collaboration, and access to a global workforce.

What are 10 Advantages of Internet? ›

What are the advantages of the Internet?
  • Information, knowledge, and learning. ...
  • Connectivity, communication, and sharing. ...
  • Address, mapping, and contact information. ...
  • Banking, bills, and shopping. ...
  • Selling and making money. ...
  • Collaboration, work from home, and access to a global workforce. ...
  • Donations and funding. ...
  • Entertainment.
12 Jan 2019

What is internet and its advantage? ›

It creates a communication medium to share and get information online. If your device is connected to the Internet then only you will be able to access all the applications, websites, social media apps, and many more services. Internet nowadays is considered as the fastest medium for sending and receiving information.

What are the pros and cons of internet? ›

Top 10 Internet Pros & Cons – Summary List
Internet ProsInternet Cons
Increase in efficiencyCommunication platform for extremists
Better learning opportunitiesInternet addiction
Higher chances to get out of povertyInappropriate content for children
Better job opportunitiesSource of distraction
6 more rows

How does the internet help society? ›

The Internet has changed business, education, government, healthcare, and even the ways in which we interact with our loved ones—it has become one of the key drivers of social evolution. The changes in social communication are of particular significance.

Why is the internet good for communication? ›

Thanks to the internet, we can communicate with one another more fluidly than at any other time in history. We can instantly share photos, post news stories, and just chat with friends, family, and colleagues from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

What are the 10 benefits of social media? ›

Top 10 Benefits of Social Media in the Digital Era
  • Generate Online Traffic.
  • Staying Alive.
  • Better Conversion Rates.
  • Increasing Brand Loyalty.
  • Partnering up with Influencers.
  • Assessing the Competition.
16 Jun 2020

What are the limitations of internet? ›

What are the disadvantages of the Internet?
  • Addiction, time-waster, and causes distractions. ...
  • Bullying, trolls, stalkers, and crime. ...
  • Spam and advertising. ...
  • Pornographic and violent images. ...
  • Never being able to disconnect from work. ...
  • Identity theft, hacking, viruses, and cheating. ...
  • Affects focus and patience.

Is internet harmful or useful? ›

If we use it correctly and wisely, it is a helpful tool. But if we use it wrongly, it can cause harm. Therefore, we should not just avoid using the internet.

Does anyone own the internet? ›

No single person or organisation controls the internet in its entirety. Like the global telephone network, no one individual, company or government can lay claim to the whole thing. However, lots of individuals, companies and governments own certain bits of it.

How does the internet affect our lives? ›

Problems in social life

Excess internet use, of social media, particularly, is related to feeling lonely. It also leads to social isolation. Private relationships can be damaged by internet use. Bad online behavior, particularly cyber-bullying and cyber-stalking, affects a notable percentage of internet users.

What is intranet what are its features? ›

An intranet is a private network contained within an enterprise that is used to securely share company information and computing resources among employees. An intranet can also be used for working in groups and teleconferences. Intranets encourage communication within an organization.

What are the main features of Internet architecture? ›

The architecture of the Internet was commonly described as having four layers above the physical media, each providing a distinct function: a “link” layer providing local packet delivery over heterogeneous physical networks, a “network” layer providing best-effort global packet delivery across autonomous networks all ...

What are the 8 types of Internet? ›

Types of Internet Connections
  • Dial-Up. Dial-up access is cheap and slow and its modem connects once the computer dials up a number. ...
  • DSL Connection. ...
  • Cable Internet. ...
  • Wireless Networks. ...
  • Satellite Connection. ...
  • Fiber Optics.
11 May 2021

What are the features and services of the Internet and the web? ›

Overview. Some of the services provided by the Internet are World Wide Web, Electronic Mail, Electronic Fax, Telent Service, File Transferring, Video Conference and Chatting.

What is the advantage of intranet *? ›

The advantages of intranet software are many. It enables companies to communicate more effectively, keep everyone informed and engaged, and make changes more swiftly and uniformly. It accelerates business productivity by removing information silos and creating multiple-way communication.

How many types of intranets are there? ›

There are three main types of intranets: corporate intranets, departmental intranets, and individual user intranets. Corporate intranets are the most common type and are used by the entire company.

Can intranet work without Internet? ›

Yes, It's called an intRAnet and it's hosted on a web server inside the company network. You won't have as many firewall issues, and access to the internal databases will be easier. But otherwise, it's much the same - just no internet.

What is the main concept of the Internet? ›

It is a global communication system that links together thousands of individual networks. In other words, internet is a collection of interlinked computer networks, connected by copper wires, fiber-optic cables, wireless connections, etc. As a result, a computer can virtually connect to other computers in any network.

What is the advantage and disadvantages of Internet? ›

List Of Top 10+ Advantages And Disadvantages Of Internet
Top 10+ Advantages of the InternetTop 10+ Disadvantages of the Internet
Online Services, booking & Schedule & Job ApplyAddiction & Causes Distractions
Video Conferencing & Screen SharingPornographic and violent images
8 more rows
30 Mar 2021

What are Internet its concept? ›

What is the Internet? The Internet is a vast network that connects computers all over the world. Through the Internet, people can share information and communicate from anywhere with an Internet connection.

Is the internet electricity? ›

They also took into account the average life cycle of each piece of the infrastructure. Ultimately, Raghavan and Ma estimated the Internet uses 84 to 143 gigawatts of electricity every year, which amounts to between 3.6 and 6.2 percent of all electricity worldwide.

What is the source of internet? ›

Who created the internet? The internet began as ARPANET, an academic research network that was funded by the military's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA, now DARPA). The project was led by Bob Taylor, an ARPA administrator, and the network was built by the consulting firm of Bolt, Beranek and Newman.

What factors affect internet speed? ›

Factors affecting the speed and quality of internet connection
  • Data transfer technology. ...
  • Network centralizer. ...
  • Other devices and users. ...
  • Network technology and terminal device. ...
  • Other users. ...
  • Location. ...
  • Several operators provide a free speed test for their customers.

How do you use the Internet in your daily life? ›

Importance Of Internet Technology For Easy Life
  1. Uses of the Internet in Education. ...
  2. Internet Use to Speed Up Daily Tasks. ...
  3. Use of the Internet for Shopping. ...
  4. Internet for Research & Development. ...
  5. Business Promotion and Innovation. ...
  6. Communication. ...
  7. Digital Transactions. ...
  8. Money Management.

What are the 3 services of Internet? ›

Some of the commonly used internet services are :
  • Communication Services.
  • Information Retrieval Services.
  • File Transfer.
  • World Wide Web Services.
  • Web Services.
  • Directory Services.
  • Automatic Network Address Configuration.
  • Network Management Services.
10 Jun 2022

How is Internet connected around the world? ›

Today, there are around 380 underwater cables in operation around the world, spanning a length of over 1.2 million kilometers (745,645 miles). Underwater cables are the invisible force driving the modern internet, with many in recent years being funded by internet giants such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Amazon.

Videos

1. The Internet Said So | EP 144 | Sandwiches
(Varun Thakur)
2. What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains
(Epipheo)
3. What The Internet Did To Garfield
(Super Eyepatch Wolf)
4. Nicholas Carr | What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains
(ideacity)
5. How The Internet Works? | What Is Internet? | Dr Binocs Show | Kids Learning Video | Peekaboo Kidz
(Peekaboo Kidz)
6. BBC Learning - What Is The Internet
(RUMPUS!)

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