The Internet was developed during the late 1960s and early 1970s as a network or computers capable of sustaining global communication. The original Internet, initially intended as and educational and governmental tool, has since reached a global commercial user base. The original Internet has proven a successful means of disseminating and communicating information to more than a billion users, thanks to technological advances.
A new wave however, has occurred in Internet technology. Educators and researchers are currently investigating and implementing new technology, referred to as Internet2. This new communication outlet was built to help ease the congestion researchers, government agents and educators currently face when attempting to access the Internet. The information superhighway has in fact, become jam packed, as an interstate during rush hour. Scientists, educators and government officials have invested in a program that will hopefully result in a more technologically advanced superhighway that will allow instantaneous communication at 100 to 1000 times the speed of the original Internet. Researchers have already begun utilizing the new technology to make discoveries and share theories with other scientists globally. The benefits of the new information superhighway far outweigh the costs associated with implementation and development.
It is highly feasible that at some point in the near future, Internet2 will become commercially available, thus repeating the problem of congestion and frustration. This in turn will likely lead to the development of an Internet3 and possibly and Internet4. In the meantime, the Internet2 represents the latest in technological advances, for the purpose of disseminating information more efficiently and quickly than ever imagined before. The benefits and capabilities of this new system are explored in greater detail below, as well as the relationship of Internet2 to NGi, or Next Generation Internet.
The Internet, developed primarily in the early 1970s, revolutionized the manner in which computer communications occurred. The Internet at once introduced the possibility of a "world-wide broadcasting" agent; it was created as a tool for disseminating information, and as a medium for facilitating interaction between individuals and computers "without regard to geographic location" (Leiner, et. al, 2004).
The concept of the Internet originated through a series of memos written by J.C.R. Licklider of MIT in August of 1962 that discussed the potential for social interactions that could occur through computer networking (Leiner et. al, 2004). Licklider referred to the Internet as his "Galactic Network" concept (Leiner, et. al, 2004). He convinced others of the importance of the concept. Leonard Kleinrock at MIT later published a paper on packet switching theory, which suggested the potential feasibility of communication via packets instead of circuits, the first real step toward computer networking (Leiner, et. al, 2004). In 1965 the first computer, the TX-2 in Massachusetts was connected to the Q-32 in California via a low speed dial up thus forming the wide area computer network (Leiner, et. al, 2004). This computer networking concept was further developed. Later Interface Message Processors or IMP's were developed, and during the late 1960s the first host computer was connected (Leiner, et. al, 2004).
The first Internet was referred to as the ARPANET. Eventually networking research led to development of the well functioning web. The Internet itself was based on the idea that there could be "multiple independent networks of rather arbitrary design" (Leiner, et. al, 2004). The Internet now embodies an Internetworking architecture (Leiner, et. al, 2004).
Over the last several years the Internet has grown. What was once a small network of small computers connecting primarily researchers has grown into a global network connecting people and organizations all over the world (Dimitrov, n.d.). As the Internet has grown and changed, so too has its role in society. With the advent of technological advances, the Internet has become a commercially-based tool, utilized by large organizations and small, by individuals and government entities. It is used for a variety of purposes, including banking and conduction of other personal affairs (Dimitrov, n.d.). There are now large networks of thousands of computers that are available for employees who work remotely; suppliers and business partners have also taken advantage of the ever increasing technology. There are some limitations with the system at present. Many have referred to the current Internet as very slow. Because of the incredible large volume of users and information passed back and forth on a daily basis, government agencies and researchers have raised concerns regarding performance. There are also a number of security issues that have been realized in recent years, which are currently being addressed. Primarily because of the advent of even newer technology and advanced educational and governmental needs, a next generation or Internet 2 has been developed.
The use of the Internet has grown exponentially. In 1996 home usage of the Internet topped out at approximately 11 million Americans (Harper, 1997). By the year 1997 that figure rose to 150 million online, with the expected projection at the time for 2000 to reach 1 billion (Harper, 1997). The Next Generation Internet, often referred to as Internet 2, was conceived as a "collaborative network of universities" receiving millions of dollars in federal funds to enact a more comprehensive partnership among industries, academia and government (Harper, 1997).
NGI or Next Generation Internet, has become a term that is used by governments, corporations and educators "to describe the future network and the work underway to develop it" (NGI, 2004).
NGI has grown out of the larger and more crowded Internet, in response to the needs of governments, scientists and universities who are looking for a new way to send information accurately, powerfully and efficiently. Internet 2 and NGI have grown out of the desire to realize this goal. The purpose of both new Internets is to develop faster technologies that will ultimately enhance research and communication.
The Internet 2 and NGI combined are a collection of more than 100 universities and high tech companies, using high-speed fiber-optic circuits and sophisticated software to share information across the superhighway (Swartz, 1997). The intention is to minimize utilization to government researchers and educators (Swartz, 1997).
Scientists, researchers and Internet architects are attempting to create a new Web that is 100 to 1,000 times faster than the current system (Swartz, 1997).
The project is sponsored by a number of sources. While in office, the Clinton administration set aside more than three hundred million dollars over a three-year period to help develop NGI, which would ultimately prove beneficial to the government by providing links much faster than the current Internet capability offered (Swartz, 1997).
NGI includes sponsorship from government R&D agencies including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (Swartz, 1997).
The goal of NGI, according to Tom Kalil, the senior director for the White House National Economic Council is as follows: "To create the foundation for the networks and applications of the 21st century - just as DARPA and NSF Net led to the creation of the current Internet" (Swartz, 1997).
The Internet2 along a similar vein, is being developed among a collaboration of 135 universities and corporations, and is sponsored among others by the following: Stanford, the University of California at Berkeley, Harvard, Cornell, Yale and the University of Virginia (Swartz, 1997). The goal of this project is in essence, "to create a virtual university for students and professors to access books from libraries thousands of miles apart, to take classes at other campuses and to collaborate on research projects" (Swartz, 1997).
Each of the universities involved contributed $25,000 initially and a total of $500,000 a year for the project over a three-year time span (Swartz, 1997). Corporate sponsors of the project include IBM, AT&T and MCI, who together are contributing more than $1 million each to help promote the construction of the Internet2 (Swartz, 1997).
Whereas NGI is more governed by government agencies, Internet2 is guided by a steering committee made up of members of sponsoring universities. NGI and Internet2 are separate projects, but share many of the common goals and aspirations. Both for example, are aiming to provide links to the commercial web, and both will depend upon the traditional Internet for email service and low-level research (Swartz, 1997).
Summary of Benefits/Sponsorships/Outcomes NGI/
Connect Universities and National Labs
Operate at speeds 1,000 faster than present
Enable Advanced Networking and Research
Enable better medical diagnosis and scientific research
Costs: $300-500 million
Financing: Federal Government which will contribute $300 million initially
Universities and Private corporations, which will contribute millions
Members: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency,
Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, NASA,
National Institute of Standards and Technology,
Founded: October 1996
Source: Swartz, 1997; SCV, 1997
Summary Outcomes/Benefits/Sponsorships Internet 2
Purpose: link university networks
Connect at speeds 100 times faster than the Internet for the purpose of research and academic collaboration
Members: More than 100 universities, and corporations
Cost $300 million
Financing: Universities paying $500,000 annually for three years,