What will the Web be in 20 year's time?
05 December 2008
Good morning Ladies and gentlemen
Welcome to this joint ITU/EBU workshop on what the web will be in 20 years
time – quite a challenging topic!
ITU is very pleased to cooperate with EBU on organising this workshop on
such an interesting subject.
I am pleased that we speakers representing such varied constituencies that
have agreed to join this panel today and I would like to thank them.
Ladies and gentlemen, if this workshop had been taking place in 1988 – 20
years ago I don’t believe any of us would have been able to envisage the
Internet as it is today.
Even ten years ago the Internet was still in its infancy, and although we
may have had an idea where the Internet was going, we were still struggling
to understand how we could make it work for us.
It was a time of excitement – the dotcom era – but as we all know, the boom
was followed by somewhat of a bust.
Nevertheless, despite the set back we moved forward into the world of
convergence, and although we are now faced with a global financial crisis I
am sure the internet will continue its rapid progress.
Over the last 20 years we have moved from dial-up modems of 56Kbps to
broadband connections being used by over half of all internet users.
Of course, a large percentage of these connections are facilitated using the
ITU standards for digital subscriber line (DSL), or cable modems.
ITU’s work has given significant impetus to the development of the Internet.
The modem standards defined in ITU-T’s V-series Recommendations gave most
people their first taste of online life.
ITU’s forward looking work on next generation networks (NGNs), access and
transport technologies, and multimedia are already helping to shape the
networks of the future.
Although it is difficult to predict what the net will look like in 20 years,
there are some key concerns that will need to be addressed in its further
Issues that we are discussing at this IGF such as – the Internet and climate
change, accessibility to the Internet for persons with disabilities, the
protection of children online, cybersecurity, multilingualism – are already
a strong focus of our work.
We know that the ICT Sector produces some 2-3 per cent of total emissions of
greenhouse gases (GHG) and that Internet use is a significant part of this
figure. We also know that this percentage will increase as Internet use
continues to grow over the next 20 years. I am very pleased that we have
established a dynamic coalition on this issue which met for the first time
yesterday. It is something we must pay particular care to.
ITU’s mission is to connect the world – and that includes the ten per cent
of the global population with disabilities. The Internet has a tremendous
potential to increase the capabilities of persons with disabilities but
accessibility requirements must be built in at the design stage. It is
impossible or at least very expensive to retrofit equipment. I am very
pleased that we have also established a dynamic coalition on this issue
which will meet for the first time tomorrow.
Young people have an especially important role to play in the Information
Society, both as potential beneficiaries and as future drivers of ICT
development. However, as the number of children and young people accessing
the Internet increases, so, too, does the likelihood that they will be
exposed to harmful situations and websites.
According to recent surveys, over 60% of children and teenagers using the
Internet talk in chat rooms on a daily basis. Three in four children online
are willing to share personal information about themselves and their family
in exchange for goods and services, and one in five children will be
targeted by a predator or paedophile each year. Sites promoting child
pornography, violent games, and illegal content, are just a few examples of
the risks they face. ITU has launched its “Child Online Protection” (COP)
initiative which will provide a platform for governments, industry,
educators, law enforcement and child experts to share views and develop best
practices. We certainly hope that this threat to children will not exist in
the Internet of the future.
Cybercrime continues to be a major threat to the future of the Internet. The
World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) called upon the ITU to build
confidence and security in the use of ICTs. In accordance with this mandate
the ITU created the Global Cybersecurity Agenda, and within this framework
is committed to connecting the world safely and responsibly. Ongoing ITU-T
work on security includes threats and risk management; countering spam;
identity management; security for NGN, IPTV, home networks, ubiquitous
sensor networks, mobiles; etc. But the criminals are always one step ahead.
The problem we are faced with is that the Internet is being used today for
all sorts of purposes it was not designed for.
If we really want to know what the web will look like in 20 years we need to
tap into the excellent talent that exists in the world’s universities and
research establishments. Innovative ideas liked the Internet develop from
That is why this year in ITU we started a new initiative to attract
academia, which we call Kaleidoscope.
We issued a call for papers on the subject of Innovations in Next Generation
Over 140 papers were submitted for peer review, and the best 50 papers
presented over two days in Geneva last May.
We had 220 participants and around 50 universities participating.
The authors of the winning three papers received prizes totaling $10,000 and
their papers will be published in the IEEE proceedings, and will be
considered as the basis for new standardization activities in ITU.
We will repeat this event each year in different parts of the world.
One of the keynote presentations at this year’s event was entitled New
Generation Network – Beyond NGN, by Professor Aoyama of Keio University in
Japan. We had hoped he would have been with us today to repeat his
presentation as it was certainly thought provoking.
In it he explains several research activities going on around the world
towards so-called new generation networks which is seen as a coming together
of NGN and the Internet. I am not going to try to explain it further but his
presentation is available on our website and Art Levin will say a bit more
about it later.
I have highlighted some of the concerns we feel must be addressed in the
future development of the Internet. That is not to say of course that we do
not recognize the tremendous benefits of the Internet. The spread of the
Internet has brought enormous benefits to society, boosting economic growth,
providing greater efficiency in business and government processes, and
improving education. Although 20 years ago we might never have envisaged the
Internet of today, and we may not be able to envisage it 20 years from now,
but we certainly cannot image life without it now.