The Grand Unification of Networking

Modern communicationsCredit: NASA

The technological reality of the early 21st century is the proliferation of networks. The existence of several networks, that deliver essentially the same thing, is an inefficiency that will be improved in the future. There has been a convergence of content to the various networks which only serves to prove that they can, and must, be combined into one entity, the Internet.

The technology of the Internet was invented in 1969. It began as a method of connecting computers in a distributed network. This allowed the entire system to function even if several components are lost. Over the years since, an incredible number of new computers have been added to the original network. The Internet has become a large, distributed network that is located in virtually every location around the globe. Interestingly, the Internet was not the first network used.

Prior to the Internet, various other technologies were used to link computers together. Each brand of large computer had its own network. Generally, these could not converse with other types of computers. When the standard personal computer began to proliferate in the early 1980's, even more networks were imposed on users. Again, these different networks were not compatible with each other. Luckily, just as the situation was becoming intolerable, the Internet rose in prominence.

The Internet delivers practically any type of content to nearly any computer around the world. It is the culmination of networking which provides the common backbone to technology today. Unfortunately, there are still parallel network technologies which are resisting the move to the Internet. Cellular phone services, broadcast TV, cable TV and more, are examples of such networks.

In the future, all networks that are not part of the Internet should be retired. The Internet is currently delivered by cable TV wires, DSL telephone wires, WI-FI radio transmissions and various advanced delivery methods for specialized purposes. Each of the current alternate delivery mechanisms can be adjusted to enable them to carry the Internet.

The cellular telephone network is a good example of a parallel technology that can be adapted to carry the Internet. Already, most of the mobile devices that use the cellular networks are capable of using the Internet directly. These devices, however, are built with dual technology so that they can take advantage of the Internet when they are connected to a suitable WI-FI source or to the cellular network if not. In fact, many users of mobile devices use WI-FI services as much as possible to avoid excessive data usage on the cellular network. Some mobile phone users do not use the cellular networks at all, opting to use WI-FI exclusively. Such users can load Internet data, shop online, view streaming video and even make telephone calls. The last feature is made possible through services such as Skype and Google Phone which bridge the Internet to the established telephone network.

Telephone service is another network that can be adapted to use the Internet. While the installed technology is currently extensive, with much specialized gear, the system is an inefficient combination of various technologies. Many telephones are digital devices which must adapt their signals to analog realities. Power usage of the standard telephone system is often far higher than equivalent digital networks. Much like mobile phones, there are many hybrid devices now in use with the standard telephone system. Many callers have phones which are actually Internet devices. They are plugged into standard Internet outlets and they communicate with specialized equipment which bridges them to the existing telephone system. This is another example of inefficiency which can easily be eliminated. Grasshopper offers an amazing unification service that controls the diverse arrangements of telephones today. Find out how Grasshopper can boost effectiveness of this vital business communications tool.

Even broadcast television has finally adapted to new technology. For decades, all TV transmissions were analog signals which were received by large antennas. Modern televisions have been built with various converters that adapt the signal to digital ones which can be used by the TV display mechanism. In recent times, the entire obsolete TV transmission system has been converted to digital broadcast technology. This opens the door to the use of the Internet via the TV signal spectrum.

One technology that is rapidly expanding the Internet is  WI-FI. This is simply a system that broadcasts Internet signals over a radio frequency. Many homes use WI-FI with laptops, netbooks and mobile phones within the house. Increasingly, desktop computers use WI-FI as well. The technology offers the ability to receive web content on various devices, without wiring. The speed of the technology is generally adequate for most users and the convenience for portable devices is practically essential. New desktop installations can find that wireless options are substantially cheaper than installing network wiring. In some older buildings, computer installations are faced with either expensive wiring installs or they must run wires in exposed channels. This increases risk of damage and generally is not hygienic as dust tends to collect near cables.

In the coming years, WI-FI should continue to expand which will hasten the move from alternate networks to the Internet. This will result in less expensive communication charges for computer users. Already, many businesses have found that offering free WI-FI to customers is beneficial. Visits to the establishment increase. Many stay longer, which is a benefit to restaurants. For those national chains that offer WI-FI, the traveling public knows to search for familiar restaurants or hotels where they know they can use their mobile devices for free. Technology is rapidly putting an end to the once common complaint that users can get free Internet with a $4.00 coffee but have to pay extra with a $400 hotel room.

With the widespread adoption of Internet, and the subsequent retiring of alternate networks, the day is coming when most people will have ready access to less expensive content. This will even allow for increases in speed. Without the need to adapt from digital to analog, and back, many telephone devices will run at full speed all of the time. They will use less power as well. The established cellular telephone network will be used to deliver pure Internet to service subscribers. This will eliminate the need for bridge devices and hybrid mobile phones. The result is less expense for users.