Praggya Guptaa | February 6, 2015
As a co-designer with Robert Kahn of TCP/IP protocols and basic architecture of the internet, Cerf is responsible for identifying new enabling technologies and applications. In an email interaction with Governance Now, he talks about the next phase of evolution of the internet and how India should go about connecting its billion plus people.
How do you see the global digital economy?
Currently, digitisation is facing least economic resistance as the cost of devices, storage and communication is declining. The globe-spanning internet facilitates international trade in goods and services, opening opportunities for everyone to be connected. The efficiency of handling digital content and transactions eventually dominates. The same may be said for electronic funds transfers and increased use of smartphones (they are so rich in functionality that to call them “phones” seems a misnomer).
Which trends do you foresee for the evolution of internet in the next few decades?
Trends like increase in internet speed, reliance on wireless networks (local, broadcast, satellite, etc.), the Internet of Things and advanced manufacturing including 3D printing may dominate the future. Also, non-invasive personal diagnosis for monitoring vital signs, supporting manned and robotic interplanetary exploration and smart cities might play a major role.
How can the internet be made more relevant for illiterate and non-English speaking population?
Recognition and synthesis of spoken language will improve with time. Automatic and real-time translation of spoken and written languages will soon become common. This capability will put the value of the internet and its contents within the reach of illiterate population. It may also become the means by which literacy can be achieved. Literacy is an important element for any country to achieve growth and advancement.
How is Google planning to collaborate on Digital India?
We are exploring numerous ways to extend the reach of the internet. Exploring alternative technologies and evaluating their cost and performance seems to be the most immediate imperative.
In your view, how can India address the issue of last-mile connectivity?
No single technology is sufficient to achieve the goal of last-mile connectivity. Mobile towers and the possibility of 4G and 5G network may be feasible for some areas. The national fibre backbone to 2,50,000 villages will form a basis for extension to an additional 3,50,000 villages. Point to point radio (such as Wi-Max) may allow local Wi-Fi networks to be linked to the backbone. It is also possible that some extension may be achieved through fibre on poles or trenches. There are many possibilities but they are still fairly experimental such as balloons and drones. The O3B satellite system might also be used to provide ground station hubs accessed by local Wi-Fi or other extension means.
In my view, the most important and immediate initiative for the Indian government is to build the fibre backbone and explore last-mile options. To stimulate private sector investment, policies might be adopted to make it attractive to build last-mile networks. In addition, internet exchange points might be subsidised to facilitate interconnection of domestic and private sector networks with each other and international backbones.
Can you throw some light on Google’s Project Loon?
Google has been testing this technology for over a year. The idea is to put balloons at about 60,000 feet above and use the winds at that altitude to confine the balloons to specific latitudes. The balloons would circle the earth, in effect. They have inter-balloon communication as well as air to ground and would be used to deliver Wi-Fi. If it works well, this is one way to extend the national fibre network.
Calling for reforms in the Engineering Department of BMC, Mumbai Vikas Samiti, a not-for-profit organisation has said that less than optimum performance of Engineering Function has added to the woes of citizens and deterioration in the quality of life in the metro. In its recently released r
Hailing the Maharashtra government for introducing a bill to amend the Insecticide Act, 1968, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) India has called the amendments ‘very focussed’ and urged the state to expand their scope to address other challenges. The bill, introduced in the a
`Garba of Gujarat` has been inscribed in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of Humanity by UNESCO, under the provisions of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage during the 18th meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of t
Since its inception, Citizen Financial Cyber Fraud Reporting and Management System has witnessed more than 12.77 lakh complaints registered (till November 15, 2023), and has saved more than Rs. 930 crore in more than 3.80 lakh complaints. This was stated by minister of state for home affair
Impacts and implications of Climate Change Vulnerability in the Himalayan Region and ways of creating ‘Climate Resilient Development in Indian Himalayan Region by making mountain communities green and resilient were discussed the side event hosted at the India pavilion at the UN Climate Conference CO
Air pollution in Delhi has been in headlines, as every year in recent times. Mumbai too has suffered from air pollution, despite being a coastal city. Apart from many other metros such as Bangalore and Kolkata, tier-I and -II cities and rural areas also have high pollution levels. Every year reports and st