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The internet has become intelligent and is ready for the internet of things era

The Internet Society is an American non-profit organization that provides leadership in internet-related standards, education, access and policy. Salam Yamout is the Middle East Regional Director for the organization and told TechRadar Middle East that the internet has grown from five networks to more than 64,000 independently operated networks in less than 25 years.

“Internet [has] faced a lot of challenges in the past and was able to cope with them by being continuously improved by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) that happens every year,” she said. The IETF is an international community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers concerned with the evolution of the architecture and the smooth operation of the internet.

IoT is not changing the infrastructure of the internet

The number of IoT devices is expected to grow from 7 billion in 2018 to 22 billion by 2025. “So far, we have been able to cope with it. The only difference with IoT is the last mile or the connection between the device and the gateway to the internet. This is another protocol but once they get to the internet, the traffic is the same and nothing is different for IoT devices,” Yamout said.

The only issue, she said was the number of IP addresses for IoT devices but the issue was solved after we moved to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).

“About 25 per cent of all the traffic on the internet is IPv6. All the networks in the Arab region are relatively new and they don’t have any issues to move to IPv6.  But unless everyone moves to the IPV6, the network operators have to maintain both IPv4 and IPv6 at the same time,” she said.

Less regulation, more innovation

Despite repeated calls by countries and the governments to regulate the internet, she said that the regulation could have unintended consequences and will not succeed because the internet is based on voluntary agreements between networks.

“A regulatory race can lead to wrong incentives and will result in a fractured internet. The internet should be open and a lot of reports from the World Bank demonstrate that the economic and social benefits of the internet can be made only if everyone has access to it,” Yamout said.

The 64,000 networks that make up the internet today are going to be at different levels of regulations and sometimes “we see that networks in countries that are less regulated are being more innovative or making more money out of the internet. We are not going to see one regulation affecting the 64,000 networks.”

The big four have changed the way the internet works

When asked how can small companies survive when the big five tech companies - Alibaba, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google - dominate the internet economy, she said that the large and growing influence of a handful of key internet players on the internet economy is not “harmful”.

“They [big four or five companies] have changed the way the internet works because now they have the proprietary networks to outlast certain section of the planet. We are continuing with the research under the title “concentration of internet” because we discovered that there are several layers on the internet such as the concentration of infrastructure, concentration of eyeball and concentration of applications.

Till now, she said: “we don’t have a clear-cut answer. Sometimes the economies of scale are useful as it will make it cheaper and available. Sometimes, we are concerned about the end-to-end principle of the internet. We don’t want new companies to come and cannibalise the internet”.

Right now, she said that there is no international framework to tax the big four companies. However, she said that big telecom operators have a negotiating agreement with these companies.