In this day and age, it would be extremely difficult to argue that the global economy could continue in the same way without the internet. The ability to transfer data immediately across vast distances has completely changed the world of commerce and society at large.
What would happen if we no longer had that? Or if it was severely limited?
The world would of course, continue to turn – people are innately innovative and will always come up with solutions for problems. But that's actually why the internet is so important; it enables ideas to be exchanged freely and quickly and acts as a catalyst for innovation.
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The global economy has benefitted hugely from this – technological breakthroughs in one region can be shared elsewhere to both generate money and jobs, and also save expense.
A scary reliance
Sectors such as banking, which underpin the world economy, have been revolutionised by the internet and in turn helped millions of businesses of every size and shape. Today, if a bank was unable to transfer data via the internet, billions of pounds worth of trade could potentially be lost, putting livelihoods at risk.
Look at the NASDAQ US stock market outage in August 2013, it affected the New York Stock Exchange too, and froze trade on stocks worth trillions of dollars combined.
It's not just major corporations who rely on the internet, there are countless small businesses who use internet-connected payments and inventory systems. Without the internet many would not be able to guarantee certain products on their shelves, or the availability of services.
The last decade has seen internet-related businesses really take-off., for example, Google recently revealed financial results for the fourth quarter of 2013, posting massive profits of £2.05 billion.
It must be left to grow
It's clear that the internet is critical to everyday life and business. So now we all need to take responsibility for ensuring the internet has room to grow, and can continue to give people information and opportunity.
When the internet was first created, it was a totally unknown quantity and so it was designed to allow for a relatively finite number of connections using a protocol called IPv4. That's already run out across Europe, the Middle East, parts of Central Asia, and the Asia-Pacific region, and stocks are quickly diminishing elsewhere too.
That's why it's important that businesses of all sizes take an interest in IPv6, the protocol that was designed to replace IPv4.
IPv6 allows for 340 trillion, trillion, trillion addresses. In other words, we're not going to run out any time soon. The future of the world's economy and innovation will be tied to the growth of the Internet, and for that reason every single business should have a plan to deploy IPv6, so that we can continue to generate ideas unrestrained.
Axel Pawlik is the Managing Director of the RIPE Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC). He has worked in the internet industry for over 28 years.