Network World offers 10 “surefire bets” about what the Internet will look like in 10 years.
- As computer scientists work to improve the Internet's design, the global network is expected to change dramatically over the next 10 years. The Internet currently has about 1.7 billion users, but the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) expects the Internet will have nearly 5 billion users by 2020
- The Internet also will be more geographically dispersed in 10 years, spreading to more developing regions.
- Ten years from now, the Internet will be a network of things, not computers. Today, the Internet has approximately 575 million host computers, but the NSF expects infrastructure sensors alone to surpass the number of host computers by several orders of magnitude
- The Internet also will carry more content. Cisco estimates that global Internet traffic will increase to about 44 exabytes per month by 2012.
- In 2020, the Internet will be wireless. In the second quarter of 2009, the number of mobile subscribers hit 257 million, representing an 85 percent increase year-over year for high-speed data networking technologies. By 2014, approximately 2.5 billion people will subscribe to some form of mobile broadband, according to Informa.
- More services will use cloud computing. The NSF is encouraging researchers to develop better ways to map users and information in a cloud-computing infrastructure.
- Ten years from now, the Internet also will be greener. Future Internet architecture needs to be more energy efficient, as the amount of energy used by the Internet doubled between 2000 and 2006, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
- Network management will be more automated in 2020. The NSF is researching new network management tools for the future Internet, including automated reboot systems, self-diagnosis protocols, finer-grained data collection, and better event tracking.
- The Internet will not rely on constant connectivity. Researchers are studying communication techniques that can handle delays or easily forward information to different users.
- The Internet will attract more hackers, and computer scientists will work to make it more secure.