During an elite telecommunications conference in Edinburg, Scotland, “Intelevent”, I was invited to a dinner event in which major contributors to the telecom industry were honored. Having arrived late, I sat down with an older couple and an attorney. Of the older couple, the gentleman next to me mentioned he graduated from Stanford University with a degree in mathematics.
Since I always enjoy bantering about mathematics, I decided to discuss the Internet and why the current TCP/IP protocols would not be conducive to real time multimedia files. My argument stemmed from my reading a book, entiled “Web 2.0”. The book detailed the development of the TCP/IP protocol and the Web. I knew that DARPA, the DoD think tank, had contracted a team to design a telecommunications system in the event of nuclear war. The challenge — to design a network that would be robust enough to communicate from A to B whenever telecom lines and switches where destroyed.
For the telecom neophyte, telecommunications from the early days of Alexander Graham Bell until the 1970’s required a switch to direct a signal and a line. Whenever anyone completes a call, one “arrests” that line and is able to communicate. In other words, the term “arrest” means exactly that — a single line from origination to termination is securely dedicated for the communications between the caller and recipient. And this methodology applied to voice communications.
However, if such a line were cut, as as in the case of nuclear warfare, how can someone continue to communicate?
Now that was the challenge that DARPA presented to a couple of mathematicians: Drs. Robert Kahn and Dr. Vinten Cerf, whose work became the origin of the TCP/IP protocol.
Going back to my dinner colleague, I began to point out that TCP/IP protocol selected its routing from one route to another without any sense of urgency. It searched based on its algorithm those routers that were immediately available, and did not disicriminate from emails to multimedia. If one router was not free, it would search for the next one assuming that there was something wrong. Indeed, TCP/IP protocols had timers and, whenever you had to send a fax via satellite using that same protocol, it could time out as inherent satellite delays suggested that the line was cur. Multimedia, on the other hand, had to transmit in real time as if it were “arresting” a line in order to broadcast without jiggles or gaps.
Our evening banter with the gentleman next to me must have lasted at least a half hour, until the desserts and coffee were being served and an honorary award was to be presented.
The host began with the following introduction, “for being the co-inventor of the Internet, we present this award to Dr. Vint Cerf.” My dinner colleague stood up. And I was shocked when I realized the individual with whom I had extensive discussions on Internet development had been one of the inventors.
This long introduction is a way to discuss strategic migrations on Internet technologies and applications, and how things change — from Plain Old Telecom Systems to TCP/IP protocols. On how many things can change with a new technology but also how basic classical logic still applies.
Telecom and the Internet have a common ground — unless a call is terminated, there is no revenue, and, as long someone uses a website or URL consistently, there are no revenues. Both paradigms demand that you must access its communication for the network — whether telecom or Internet — so the end game is reached — derive revenues.
To use this old telecom analogy, unless you “arrest ” the Internet User with the content or the application, one cannot generate income.
Arresting that Internet User can be accomplished through a wide variety of ways. One example is the website and ease of the getting information that is also graphically informative through its content. Recently, I had instaaled a mobile news app from a major TV network. However, the mobile site was extremely clumsy and the content provide was meager.
I found another application also sponsored by another TV network that functioned so well that I discovered one thing — it didn’t matter that a major TV network had sponsored that website — what matter most was the design on the User Interface and the level of content being proffered. Needless to say, I deleted the previous website and now I use the other app almost exclusively. In other words, the new app arrested my attention.
As I told a software developer about programming for Internet, the underlying program is important, but now, with the infinite numbers of competitors out there and the finite number of eyeballs, I am observing that the old telecom term, “arrest,” can be applied to the new world, the Internet, in a new context.