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Winter 2004
Cyber Vision
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Partly, that’s due to the way the telecommunications and media markets are allocated, and partly it has to do with what Cerf describes as “our hesitation to share spectrum usage by allowing more than one party to be radiating [data] on ultra-wideband at the same time.” Such concurrent use means that competitors will potentially interfere with each other’s signals.

"For most users, cyberspace exists behind the computer screen," says Kleinrock. "We want to take cyberspace outside and deploy it in our physical world — on our desks, shoes, eyeglasses, vehicles, refrigerators, possibly even in our bodies."

But that’s just what ultra-wideband technologies are intended to do, says Cerf, adding that applications that were once separate are becoming more and more commonly transportable in a shared, packet-switched Internet environment, creating, for example, Internet-enabled mobile phones. They might not carry voice as efficiently as data, which is why there is a voice channel for the mobile phone and a separate channel for data, he says, but eventually, voice, video, text and any other form of data will be combined and carried in Internet packets. Revolutionary? The scenario was predicted in a 1979 study. “It’s taken 25 years to realize it,” says Cerf.

Another foreseeable trend is that a greater number of devices in automobiles will become Internet-enabled, making them more finely tuned to their surroundings and thereby greatly reducing the potential for accidents. “I don’t want to argue that everything in the universe will be connected to the Internet, but the Internet is becoming an increasingly ubiquitous communications system,” says Cerf.

More and more communications networks are using packet-switching technology, making it inevitable that the Internet will augment and, in some cases, replace older technologies such as the telephone and television without phasing them out. “They can then be used to carry Internet traffic, just as it is possible to transmit Internet data over satellite-linked video channels,” says Cerf. “There is a confluence in both directions: The historical communications system becomes a bearer of Internet traffic and the Internet becomes a bearer of the content those historical systems exclusively carried.”

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