Transportation Deployment Casebook/2018/The Internet

Qualitative AnalysisEdit


Ritchie and Roser (2018) in their paper ‘Technology Diffusion and Adoption’[1] presents an empirical view of technology adoption trends supported with evidence gathered from World Bank Data. Technologies have historically followed an S-curve distribution in adoption, with developed countries initiating change while developing nations leapfrogging some technologies in entirety. As we enter into the information age, the transfer and rapid proliferation of ideas through technology drives society towards increased rates of development. The positive externalities of information driven society have resulted in increasing rates of change, not only of technology but values and motivations. Whilst the electrical network forms the backbone of all modern information technology the provision of fast, efficient data transfer will allow for further geospatial optimization as dependent technologies develop on top of existing ones.

Much like other distributed networks, internet access is affected by economies of scale along with the deployment of physical infrastructure – as “every network must rely on other networks to reach parts of the internet that it does not itself serve; there is no such thing as a ubiquitous internet backbone provider.” <TeleGeography (2018), "State of the Network", accessed 14th May 2018 </ref> This draws parallels to the early days of the railroad where past rail providers, much like internet service providers of today, each owned their own networks but reached agreements to extend the length of lines and improve overall connectivity between disparate locations.

The internet has allowed automation and connectivity to be achieved as the unconscious, daily injections of information into our daily lives through bandwidth transfer supported on high speed broadband infrastructure has globally revolutionized the social, political and cultural landscapes. Digitalized instructions for physical, electrical components provide a framework for the automation of services and optimization of processes in modern society, with many experts predicting the rise of artificial intelligence and machine based learning in the near future.

Summary of TechnologiesEdit

At one point in history, the word Internet was portmanteau for interconnected network, aptly describing the global system of information transport from computer to computer. Originally a mainly a military project called ARPANET it has since evolved to connect private, public, business, academic and government networks of global and local scale. The scale of the Internet as we know it could not be achieved without the various hardware and software technologies that form its backbone of routers, network access points and fibre optic bundles which relay massive amounts of data with a large amount of redundant networks so that data at any point has multiple options to reroute, improving the resilience of transmission.

Internet BackboneEdit

Internet backbones are owned by large corporations, of which only 7 exist in the world at this point. These data providers are named the Tier 1 providers and consist of CenturyLink, Telia Carrier, NTT, Cogent, Level 3, GTT and Tata Communications. [2] All other internet service providers (ISPs) must purchase transit agreements from the Tier 1 providers to utilize their routers and fibre optic trunks for the lossless transmission of data globally. ISPs also utilize a variety of electronic, wireless and optical technologies to provide Internet service for consumer use. Due to the scope of the Internets influence, antitrust policy in the US was suspended to promote the growth of online networks.

Packet SwitchingEdit

Before the advent of the Internet, data transmission was prone to physical constraints and as a result early data transmission technology was heavy and fragile. With the development of packet switching in 1975, this would replace early network systems which used message switching which relied on routing down singular paths which were prone to failure. This was key to the development of the modern internet and uses rapid store and forward network design, allowing for information to be broken into smaller “packets” each routed individually and checked for integrity at multiple points between host and node allowing for the lossless transmission of data, as receiving nodes can simply request another stored copy from the point before it should the packet be corrupted.

Network ProtocolsEdit

ISP: Internet Service Provider, reached through the modem dialling a local number to connect to the World Wide Web. LAN: Local Area Network POP: Point of Presence, local users to access company network through a local phone number of dedicated line. NAP: Network Access Points high level networks connecting to each other.

Internet is a collection of corporate networks that agree to intercommunicate with each other at the NAPs. In this way every computer on the Internet connects to every other.

IP Addresses are used to identify users and are further separated into IPv4 and IPv6 technologies. Each IPv4 address is comprised of a set of 4 numbers which each contain 8 binary values for a total of 32 binary bits, allowing for 232 = 4.3billion amount of individual IPv4 combinations. For humans this is simplified into a string of 4 base 256 numbers (ie. The first octet represents identification for the Net, representing the network the computer belongs to whilst the last octet contains the identification for the Host or the individual computer on the network. The IPv6 address system uses hexadecimal (base 16) numbers instead with the addition of a, b, c, d, e, f in addition to the standard integers (0-9). This allows for 2128 = 3.4*1038 number of IPv6 combinations. These days most people use a dynamic IP which is a system regulated by the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) through routers or dedicated DHCP servers. In the DHCP system dynamic IP addresses are issued by lease following a process of: 1) Connecting computer discover a DHCP by broadcasting a message. 2) DHCP(s) responds to the computer with an offer of their service. 3) Computers select a DHCP provider then requests an IP address. 4) Selected DHCP acknowledge the computer and issues an unused IP address.

Integrated ApplicationsEdit

Problems faced by predecessor technologies include piracy, advertising, overhead costs in storage and accessibility. Media storage technology had been moving towards lower weights and larger degrees of cross-integration from the development of audio cassette to CD to MP3 technology, in the case of audio. Online services such as Spotify and Amazon centralized existing storage technologies, allowing for portability and accessibility while also reducing overhead fees so that more profit reaches content creators. Digital network distribution has replaced physical distribution by solving these problems through the implementation of digital right management (DRM) technologies and this has resulted in increased incentives for content creators and as a direct result the development of niche markets. In this way the transport of data has been streamlined by Internet-based software and has allowed for the regulation of existing policies which were poorly integrated in the past. Access to new, niche markets has also been enabled through various social media platforms with increased connectivity.


Early research and development:

• 1965: NPL network planning starts

• 1966: Merit Network founded

• 1966: ARPANET planning starts

• 1967: NPL network packet switching pilot experiment

• 1969: ARPANET carries its first packets

• 1971: Tymnet packet-switched network

• 1972: Merit Network's packet-switched network operational

• 1972: Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) established

• 1973: CYCLADES network demonstrated

• 1974: Telenet packet-switched network

• 1976: X.25 protocol approved

• 1978: Minitel introduced

• 1979: Internet Activities Board (IAB)

• 1980: USENET news using UUCP

• 1980: Ethernet standard introduced

• 1981: BITNET established

Merging the networks and creating the Internet:

• 1982: TCP/IP protocol suite formalized

• 1982: Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)

• 1983: Domain Name System(DNS)

• 1983: MILNET split off from ARPANET

• 1985: First .COM domain name registered

• 1986: NSFNET with 56 kbit/s links

• 1986: Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)

• 1987: UUNET founded

• 1988: NSFNET upgraded to 1.5 Mbit/s (T1)

• 1989: Border Gateway Protocol (BGP)

• 1989: Federal Internet Exchanges (FIXes)

• 1990: ARPANET decommissioned

• 1991: World Wide Web(WWW)

• 1992: NSFNET upgraded to 45 Mbit/s (T3)

• 1994: Full text web search engines

Commercialization, privatization, broader access leads to the modern Internet:

• 1995: New Internet architecture with commercial ISPs connected at NAPs

• 1995: very high-speed Backbone Network Service(vBNS)

• 1995: IPv6 proposed

• 2000: Dot-com bubblebursts

• 2001: New top-level domain names activated

• 2003: UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) phase I

• 2004: UN Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG)

• 2005: UN WSIS phase II

Examples of Internet services:

• 1989: AOL dial-up service provider, email, instant messaging, and web browser

• 1990: IMDb Internet movie database

• 1995: online retailer

• 1995: eBay online auction and shopping

• 1995: Craigslist classified advertisements

• 1996: Hotmail free web-based e-mail

• 1997: Babel Fish automatic translation

• 1998: Google Search

• 1998: Yahoo! Clubs (now Yahoo! Groups)

• 1998: PayPal Internet payment system

• 1999: Napster peer-to-peer file sharing

• 2001: BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing

• 2001: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

• 2003: LinkedIn business networking

• 2003: Myspace social networking site

• 2003: Skype Internet voice calls

• 2003: iTunes Store

• 2003: 4Chan Anonymous image-based bulletin board

• 2003: The Pirate Bay, torrent file host

• 2004: Facebook social networking site

• 2004: Podcast media file series

• 2004: Flickr image hosting

• 2005: YouTube video sharing

• 2005: Reddit link voting

• 2005: Google Earth virtual globe

• 2006: Twitter microblogging

• 2007: WikiLeaks anonymous news and information leaks

• 2007: Google Street View

• 2007: Kindle, e-reader and virtual bookshop

• 2008: Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)

• 2008: Dropbox cloud-based file hosting

• 2008: Encyclopedia of Life, a collaborative encyclopedia intended to document all living species

• 2008: Spotify, a DRM-based music streaming service

• 2009: Bing search engine

• 2009: Google Docs, Web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, form, and data storage service

• 2009: Kickstarter, a threshold pledge system

• 2009: Bitcoin, a digital currency

• 2010: Instagram, photo sharing and social networking

• 2011: Google+, social networking

• 2011: Snapchat, photo sharing

• 2012: Coursera, massive open online courses

Timeline excerpted from History of the Internet and edited for pertinent timepoints.

Predecessor Technologies and PoliciesEdit

Several network systems utilizing TCP/IP and packet switching technologies existed before the development of the World Wide Web. ARPANET was initially developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency as a military information network during the Cold War in response to the fear of nuclear attack. However, in its early stages, ARPANET used a now defunct form of network protocol called NCP (Network Control Program). The creation of the research based NPL network and military based ARPANET eventually led to the exploration of several alternatives such as the Merit Network by the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and National Science Foundation, which focused on the role of networking in the development of educational and economic development. CYCLADES was a French research project which ultimately influenced increases in the reliability of data transfer in the ARPANET architecture. X.25 was the first commercially available virtual network that emulated traditional telephone connections. In a collaboration between the British Post Office, Western Union and Tymnet, the International Packet Switched Service (IPSS) was the first global packet switching network. Access to the IPSS network only required a dedicated modem and line which would allow anybody to access a host of online databases and mainframe systems. Many online message board networks would eventually develop based off Unix Communication Protocols, owned by private and public entities.

The Internet Protocol Suite resulted in the unification of the various preexisting networks by standardizing the internetwork protocol which would eventually result in the IPv4 protocol. This led to the ARPANET offshooting into a variety of different networks such as the MILNET, SIPRNET, NIPRNET and JWICS each providing connectivity range of different government sectors.

The development of the NSFNET was due to research and educational interest and the NSFNET was the first 56kbit/s backbone supporting the NSF supercomputers, as demand for this network quickly exceeded supply the network was upgraded to a 1.5MBit/s network in cooperation with the MERIT Network, IBM, MCI and the State of Michigan. Eventually the NSFNET was upgraded once again before being decommissioned to be replaced by commercial ISPs.

Routing technologies were eventually developed to decentralize the transfer of information, the policies or protocols that allowed for this were the File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Exterior Gateway Protocol (EGP) and the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP).

Global proliferation was initiated by CERN in between 1984 and 1988 and in 1989 RIPE, a regulatory cooperative focused on the maintenance and development of the Internet was formed. Concurrently in Asia, Japan would setup JUNET, TCP/IP IPv4 network, which eventually would connect to the NSFNET in 1989. Government funding and university involved research would lead to South Korea, China, Singapore and Thailand also establishing global Internet connections.

Birthing Phase and Web 1.0 (1990-2000)Edit

The World Wide Web was initially comprised of documents interlinked by hypertext, accessed by Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) via web browser. The creation of the first web browser was credited to Tim Berners-Lee whilst working at CERN in 1990. Web pages were formatted and annotated using HyperText Market Language (HTML), transferred through browsers using Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).[3] Eventually better browsers, graphical support, online messaging and other web applications were developed. Policy issues in 1993 led to CERN agreeing that everyone could use the Web protocol and code royalty-free. The formation of the World Wide Web Consortium at MIT with support from DARPA and the European Commission, made the web available without charge and also implemented standards and recommendations in the interest of the Web.

Quickly publicly traded companies began to use the web to market their products as a result interest and speculation grew leading to the dot-com boom, mirroring other transport technology inspired booms in the past. While this resulted in many web-based businesses going bankrupt, their prior investments in internet infrastructure has led to affordable high-speed internet for the average person.

Growth Phase and Web 2.0 (2001-Present)Edit

Web 2.0 promoted a more democratic internet as tools were released to increase accessibility to a once highly technical domain, many sites were released which solely functioned to serve as aggregates for user-submitted content. Connectivity for consumers has resulted in commercial success for web based services such as Google, Paypal, Youtube, eBay, Amazon, MySpace and Facebook. The non-commercial spread of information through community projects such as Wikipedia and sister Wikimedia projects has also led to development of community guidelines, a code of conduct for user-based content. Most of all the World Wide Web has led to the creation of specialist communities in a range of niche fields as people globally are able to connect on points of common ground.

Future DevelopmentEdit

Further meshing of physical and digital worlds through the sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) technology has lead to an increase in intelligent device management. Following Moore's Law, it is expected that the convergence of the exponential growth of computational processing power and the decreasing cost of hardware will result in even more web-based integration within our daily lives.

Quantitative AnalysisEdit

Graph of Global Internet UsersEdit

Number of Real and Expected Internet Users Using Regression Model (Real data interpreted from World Bank Data and Worldometer)

Supporting EvidenceEdit

Data AcquisitionEdit

The values used for the real values of internet adoption are taken from World Bank Data which acquired this data from the ICT Development Report by the International Telecommunication Union[4]. The data acquired was in the form of a yearly percentage figure which was then multiplied by yearly world population statistics acquired from which elaborated on data by the United Nations, Department of Economic and and Social Affairs, Population Division. All the data was then rounded using Excel's Integer Function to reach a result that would reflect real world populations (as the number of humans can only be a whole number).

Data TablesEdit

Year Real Internet Users Predicted Internet Users
1990 2630451 9569156
1993 14073443 25061393
1994 25348069 34503237
1995 44714405 47455062
1996 77323780 65179866
1997 120708146 89358487
1998 188149558 122196166
1999 281388150 166528702
2000 414371495 225900278
2001 502635648 304561653
2002 664793769 407307409
2003 780700240 539045323
2004 912768925 703996685
2005 1028997937 904508579
2006 1158530018 1139655939
2007 1369732679 1404091342
2008 1558113567 1687792979
2009 1742741580 1977203779
2010 1999284178 2257649561
2011 2192167379 2516196140
2012 2437371434 2743829671
2013 2649049950 2936264530
2014 2904030948 3983432508
2015 3180563743 3218223104
2016 3418270979 3315103321
Variable Variable Value
K 3600000000
b 0.322369
t0 2008.4
RSQ 0.9636

Interpretation of ResultsEdit

By observation, it can be deduced that while the real adoption curve fits with a high correlation coefficient to the real results there is not enough information to know whether the Internet is in its maturity phase yet. Also it should be noted that this curve only directly measures adoption and not deployment, performance or price which are also extremely important aspects to the functioning of a network. Currently what is known is that the K value which represents the market saturation is at 3.6 billion as of 2016, which is approximately 90% of the 4.0 billion of the global populace[5] currently residing in urban areas. While this may demonstrate that Internet access has reached saturation due to its widespread adoption within its most accessible market, assuming that establishing internet access in rural areas is prohibitively expensive due to the large distances which are required to be covered and relatively expensive infrastructure servicing a diminishing population densities. Advancements in satellite internet and wireless internet may have significant impact on improving access in remote regions. As a result of this and the trend for rural populations to migrate towards urban data centres, for the scope of this analysis the development of this network has been classified as still being in the growth phase.


  1. Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser (2018), "Technology Diffusion & Adoption", accessed 6th May 2018,
  2. Zmijewski, Earl (2015), "A Baker's Dozen, 2014 Edition", Dyn Research IP Transit Intelligence Global Rankings, last accessed 6th May 2017
  3. Berners-Lee, Tim, (1996), "The World Wide Web: Past, Present and Future, 1996,
  4. International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication/ICT Development Report ,
  5. Worldometers ( From 1950 to current year: elaboration of data by United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision.