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Future Scenarios

What Will The Internet Look Like In 10 Years?

The Internet Society engaged in a scenario planning exercise to reveal plausible courses of events that could impact the health of the Internet in the future. While obviously not intended to be a definitive overview of the landscape or all potential issues, we believe the results are interesting and, we hope, thought-provoking.

We are sharing them in the hope that they will inspire thought about possibilities for the future development of the Internet, and involvement in helping to make that happen in the best possible way.

Future Scenario Resources

Besides viewing the video scenarios below, you can:

Common Pool Scenario

Link to transcript of video

  • Positive “generative” and “distributed & decentralised” properties.
  • Opportunity and growth abound, with no insurmountable barriers to entry for those wishing to take part.
  • Disputes and challenges are resolved through competition, as opposed to negotiation or inherited rights.
  • Constant evolution and features a healthy ecosystem of interlinked network operators, developers, infrastructure providers, resource management organisations, etc.
  • Organisation and operation tends to be “horizontal”, not “vertical”, so that the underlying building blocks (technologies, networks, etc.) are available to all to build upon.
  • The “win” for the Internet is that it remains able to react and respond to new requirements.
  • Read more about the Common Pool Scenario

Boutique Networks Scenario

Link to transcript of video

  • Envisions a future in which political, regional and large enterprise interests fail to maximise the social and economic potential of a shared, global set of richly connected networks (the Internet).
  • It carries the weight of self-interest brought by factions seeking to optimise control in small sectors (political and otherwise).
  • It also suggests these fractionalised networks will continue to leverage the benefits of existing Internet standards and technology.
  • Each proprietary provider draws as much as possible from the common pool while giving little back.
  • Read more about the Boutique Networks Scenario

Moats and Drawbridges Scenario

Link to transcript of video

  • Suggests the world of the Internet would be heavily centralised, dominated by a few big players with their own rules in “big-boys’ clubs.”
  • Conflicts would be resolved through negotiation, not competition.
  • Connections between networks would be the result of extensive negotiation and deal making.
  • There would likely be strong regulation as governments seek to impose some public interest obligations and perhaps even controls on the equipment users can connect to the network.
  • Much content would be proprietary and protected by strong intellectual property rights.
  • Governments would control the behaviour of networks and network users through legal mechanisms and sanctions.
  • Barriers to entry would be high, with little incentive to expand networks beyond the largest and richest customers or regions.
  • Innovation would be slow, only occurring when it would benefit the network owners.
  • All players would have close political links to their mutual benefit.
  • Read more about the Moats and Drawbridges Scenario

Porous Garden Scenario

Link to transcript of video

  • Sees networks staying global but with access to content and services tied to the use of specific networks and associated information appliances.
  • Individual (business) viability would triumph over the economic potential of the common pool of the Internet.
  • Financial incentives for content producers and software developers would mean continued innovation within the appliance-based model.
  • Control over content, pricing, licensing and other concerns would be firmly in the hands of relatively few large commercial organisations.
  • Proprietary, closed technologies would abound and exclusive deals with content producers and physical communications networks would oblige consumers to purchase multiple appliances and associated subscriptions to avail themselves of the full range of innovation on the network.
  • Read more about the Porous Garden Scenario