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The Internet is constantly developing. From four computers back in the early 70's to an uncountable number today, the Internet has extreme power and has changed the world. In recent years, Internet growth has been expanding more rapidly than the government can understand. The laws and regulations of a month ago are no longer useful today. The government either has to move quicker in deciding outcomes pertaining to the Internet or has to give up control entirely. Businesses are making large technological advances that involve the Internet and are being held up by government decisions. Commercialization of the Internet brings in new technologies that are essential to growth.
The original Internet was not called the Internet. It was called ARPAnet. It had four original participating universities: the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of California at Santa Barbara, the University of Utah, and the Stanford Research Institute. These computers were hooked into four nine hundred pound IMPs, Interface Message Processors, that were the interface from the universities' computers to the dedicated phone lines that transported the information. Overseeing the project was designer Frank Heart. Graduate students at the participating universities did most of the work (Moschovitis et al. 61-62).
ALOHAnet was another network forming at just about this same time. Ironically enough, Robert Taylor, the man at the head of the company that funded ARPAnet, also got interested in another type of data transfer called packet-radio. This type of communication used radio waves and intrigued the army. Larry Roberts, who succeeded Taylor, enlisted Bob Kahn into his team to help him develop packet-radio networks. Kahn then envisioned an even bigger network. One that would use Satellites to connect the entire world together was formed into the SATnet (Moschovitis et al. 69-71).
The government becomes interested in all these networks after it realizes, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, that it did not have a way to communicate quickly. The military had a network, but actually found it quicker to fly a tape of data to where they needed it, instead of sending it through their archaically slow network. Their savior was found in the ARPAnet, which now encompassed ALOHAnet and SATnet. The military and the ARPAnet, however, did not agree with what type of protocol to use.
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All of these developments in the field of computing continued to grow. As the Personal Computer was born, regular old people started to find the Internet useful to them. Online services such as America Online, Prodigy, and CompuServe started to control Internet services to the home user (Abbate 203). As Internet needs continued to grow, more ISPs, Internet Service Providers, popped up. Currently there are a countless number of ISPs, but people want more (Brown 2).
In order to meet these needs, different types of Internet services were born. Some services, called Bulletin Board Services, are not directly connected to the Internet. These servers are just local computers in the area that just require a phone call in order to be used. Ways to use Bulletin Board Services are endless as long as the software on the server supports it. Typically they are just used to transfer small files and to use Internet e-mail while the user is not directly connected. Generally, these are free services, but the better ones can require payment (Hauben and Hauben 8).
At first, only one reasonable way for the home user existed, the analog modem. However, dial-up modems are slow and ISDN is priced way too high. Phone companies could have had the middle band market, but were afraid of losing their T1 business (Goldsborough 1). Modems are cheap to use, but tie up a phone line and are, in today's technology, slow. Recently, better access methods have been invented but were slow in deployment because of corporate wars. However, these services are now available at most large cities (Brown 4).
The appalling rate that the Internet is growing by probably makes the average person sick. In a recent article titled The Internet Revolution, Kennard, the chairman of the FCC, explains, "In 1995, there were three million Internet users in the United States. Today, there are over 80 million" (1). How are companies supposed to keep up with that? One way is with new technology. Internet backbones are keeping up with bandwidth. It's the local loops that are having problems. In The New Local Loop, it is explained how companies are figuring out that they need to install new hardware at the ISP level in order to meet demands of Internet usage. This new hardware is called future generation DLCs. Instead of the old DLC, that requires ISPs to rewire themselves, future DLCs do not need the ISPs to rewire themselves, but will still work on the old infrastructure. As well as being easier to install, future DLCs are smaller and have more POTS. This saves money in almost every way imaginable (1-2).
The FCC realizes that in order to see their "broadband oasis" (Brown 4), they must step back and let cable and telephone companies rule their own world for a while. The FCC does realize this and has not interfered whenever possible.
The FCC's decision is now seeing results. AT&T is cutting prices and even said that after 2002, when its lease expires with Excite@Home, it will open up its lines to others. This is what the FCC was going for, working for, and hoping would happen. Having AT&T setup all the new wiring and then immediately require them to open their lines to everyone else is ridiculous (Enabling Cable 1-2).
In today's quickly changing world, the Internet needs freedom, thirsts for technology, and feeds on speed. The commerce of the Internet has grown so quickly that not one person or one company can keep up. There must be competition and there must be innovation that will lead the Internet into a new future. Corporate America will be this innovation, it just needs to be let free of all restrictions. The FCC has done its part, now the rest of the world has to go along.
Abbate, Janet. Inventing the Internet Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999.
Brown, Eric. "Broadband, Narrow Choices." PC World Feb. 2000: 139-142.
"Enabling Cable." San Jose Mercury News. 30 June 2000. 16 Nov. 2000
Goldsborough, Reid. "DSL vs. Cable." Consumer's Research Magazine Nov. 1999: 32.
Hauben, Michael, and Hauben, Ronda. Netizens : On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet. Los Alamitos, CA: IEEE Computer Society Press, 1997.
Kennard, William E. "The Internet Revolution." Buildings Sept. 2000: 30-32.
Moschovitis, Christos J.P., et al. History of the Internet : A Chronology, 1843 to the Present. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 1999.
"The New Local Loop." Telephony Mar. 1998: 50.