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About Internet Society 29 April 2021

Italy Celebrates Internet Anniversary

Grant Gross
By Grant GrossTechnology Reporter

On 30 April, the Internet Society Italy Chapter is scheduled to celebrate a major anniversary, marking 35 years since the country’s first connection to the Internet.

On that day in 1986, at about 6 p.m., a network connection was established between the former CNUCE Institute of the National Research Council in Pisa, Italy, and a location in Pennsylvania in the U.S. Italy was the fourth country in Europe to connect to the Internet, after Norway, the U.K., and Germany.

The CNUCE Institute had been chosen to represent Italy in the ARPANET project, recalled Stefano Trumpy, the institute’s director at the time and current member of the Chapter. CNUCE had previously helped design and launch the first all-Italian geostationary satellite, SIRIO, back in 1977.

The connection reflected the Italian team’s support of the TCP/IP protocols developed by Bob Kahn and Vint Cert, because of limitations with another networking technology called Open Systems Interconnection, said Trumpy honorary chairman of the Italy Chapter.

“Our intuitive feeling was to believe in the TCP/IP protocols,” he added. “Luckily, we were right.”

The choice of CNUCE as the first connected organization was “natural,” because the U.S. Department of Defense was sponsoring connections only to research institutions at the time, he added.

“The connection to the Internet was important mainly for those that believed in the potential of this emerging technology, while all the others took a long time to realize,” Trumpy said. “We were part of the initial small group of ‘believers’ who brought the Internet to the Mediterranean area.”

As part of the anniversary celebration, the Italy Chapter will host an online discussion, livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube, focused on the benefits of the Internet today. The discussion will focus in part on the way the Internet connects people, said Federica Giaquinta, chapter member and Internet advocate and researcher.

“We now live in a connected age where we can locate anyone, anytime, in real-time; relationships no longer have borders,” Giaquinta said. “People are constantly exchanging information, accessing courses and resources to increase their knowledge.”

But Internet-related challenges remain in Italy, including government adoption of technology, added Alessia Ciccarello, chief operating officer of the marketing technology company CreationDose.

Ciccarello says while the Italian government is still “lagging” compared with some other countries, it has recently supported efforts to improve digital services. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has made digitization a priority for the public sector as well as the private sector.

“This awareness offers new opportunities which we hope will also be pursued to help reduce the cumbersome bureaucracy and to facilitate access to services.”

We are at our very best when we can connect – but not everyone is online. Learn how community networks can help bridge the connectivity gap.

Image of Pisa by Phan Bach via Unsplash

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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