On Tuesday evening I attended the open house at Google in London to listen to Vint Cerf give a talk entitled, “Tracking the Internet into the 21st century”. Vint, as I like to call him, was one of the inventors of TCP/IP so he was well qualified to give a talk on the future direction of the Internet.
He talked about a number of things including a recent project he has been working on: the InterPlanetary Internet. Yes, it is what you think it is! What was interesting to hear were his thoughts on VOIP, something I have been looking at recently. He described it as “no big deal” then went on to explain why. He said that VOIP companies make most of their money from connecting online users to the PSTN, which is true; think Skype. He then argued that when everybody is online, or least all of those people you want to talk to are online, there will be no need to connect to the PSTN and therefore there will be no source of revenue. My thoughts on this are that he his right but that time is a long way off. The number of people on the Internet is growing rapidly but it will be a long time before everybody is online. I also think that there is money to be made from offering additional services such as voicemail etc. I also remember reading on a blog somewhere the suggestion that if VOIP companies can charge 1 cent a minute for connecting to the PSTN, they can offer calls for free and absorb the costs with revenue made from advertisements, one of Google’s main source of revenue.
At this point the notes I took are a bit sketchy but here are few other points worth mentioning:
- The Internet Governance Forum will meet for the first time in October of this year
- Asia will be the biggest group of Internet users
- He regretted not building authentication into TCP/IP, e.g. end-to-end authentication
Overall I enjoyed the talk. Google have nice offices too. It was supposed to be a recruitment drive but there was a distinct lack of Googlers around and the buffet wasn’t great either, although there was plenty of alcohol on tap! Yes I am hard to please, but maybe I’ll apply anyway 🙂