Contemporary thinking regarding the Internet is currently founded firmly in the client-server paradigm. The current-server paradigm can be defined as the reigning mindset where the World Wide Web and access to it via Internet Browsers, is seen as the mainstay of Internet applications. This mindset is based on the view that the information on the Internet can be accessed and leveraged by a human, sitting in front of a Personal Computer who can access and manipulate information on Internet connected servers that holds shared and protected information.
Both the terms â€šE-commerceâ€› and â€šE-businessâ€› obtain a new meaning as soon as the paradigm regarding our thinking of the Internet undergoes a fundamental change. The next phase the Internet will enter is called the Ubiquitous Internet paradigm. This paradigm will enable a new viewpoint to be established, and will help in changing the limiting mindset which restricts the true potential of E-business and E-commerce. In order to provide context to this new paradigm, a number of new technologies, devices, networks, applications and implications will be introduced to describe the impact that this new paradigm will have.
The Internet as a utility
The traditional viewpoint of describing the Internet is fundamentally that the Internet is a utility. Just as electricity and water are described as utilities, the Internet is seen as the new utility. The concept of a utility as that an organization cannot survive long without it. How long would a bank, a hotel or university function without water or electricity? The length of time an organization can continue with its daily activities without these core services can be measured in hours, or minutes at best. The Internet is already seen in this light in various organizations, where normal business activities are severely hampered without access to the Internet.
This description of the Internet is correct, yet still founded in the client-server paradigm. A more comprehensive description is required in order to understand the real nature of the Pervasive computing paradigm.
The description of the Pervasive computing paradigm is quite simple, yet it is deemed important to take a slightly longer route to provide a broader understanding of the Pervasive computing paradigm and the impact it will have on organizations, business and society at large.
Internet connectivity everywhere
The longer route to understanding where the Internet is going starts with this command to you, the reader.
Stick your finger in the air. At your fingertip you will find waves that carry at least radio 100 radio stations and more than 60 television stations. (If you do not believe me, use a radio receiver and a TV satellite dish to verify my claims.) At your fingertip you will also find radio waves that you can use to access the Internet. This may be via GSM data channels, GPRS, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Within a few seconds you can log onto any Internet server or website via your cellular phone or PDA with a press of a button.
The Internet will undergo a substantial alteration as optical technologies allow the transmission of many trillions of bits per second on each strand of the Internet’s fibre-optic backbone network. The core of the network will remain optical, and the edges will use a mix of access technologies, ranging from radio and infrared to optical fibre and the old twisted-pair copper telephone lines. By then, the Internet will have been extended, by means of an interplanetary Internet backbone, to operate in outer space.
This simply means that Internet connectivity will be available everywhere you are. You will be able to access the Internet in the middle of the ocean, or if you find yourself in the International Space Station. Your access to the net will then be directly via satellite, whereas your choice of access on land will be far larger.
The most common link to the Internet when you are in travelling across the country is the data line provided by your GSM network, and in some cases their GPRS service. In cities and towns you will find Wi-Fi hotspots (IEEE 802.11b) wireless Internet connectivity hubs. You will incidentally find these in airports and even in aircraft from 2003 onwards. The whole west coast of the USA will be covered before the decade ends. The cellular companies will find themselves in a new playing field as cellular devices become both GSM and WiFi enabled. This will truly changes the rules of wireless communication as more and more people will be able to automatically choose their type of Internet activity, purely based on price and performance criteria. Bluetooth and Ultra Wide Band technology will also play its role in making the Internet accessible wherever we are. This is the true nature behind the Ubiquitous Commerce paradigm, as we become more and more connected, linked to the Internet 24 hours day, 7 days a week, wherever we are. No longer does an Internet server have the sole ability to be always connected to the Internet, we as humans will be always connected with the devices we carry in our pockets.
Humans are no longer born in radio space; they are born in Internet space