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BT's Graham Whitehead has told the Irish Internet Association's Congress that the internet is dying, but that the future for broadband and networked technology is bright.

In a keynote speech during proceedings at Clontarf Castle, Dublin, BT Exact's principal consultant said that the anarchic and hazardous nature of the public internet meant that companies were now constructing supervised private IP networks. These private networks would be able to handle the amount of traffic that would be generated when broadband was ubiquitous, phone networks were IP-based, and common household objects had their own IP addresses.

"The internet is dead, or dying; it's full of viruses, worms and porn, you have to wear a kevlar suit before you go online," he said. "BT is creating a private network, which will be joined to other private networks, to which we will add voice over IP."

He said that the relatively low rate of broadband uptake in the UK, where there are 3 million DSL and 1.5 million cable broadband subscribers, is due to the fact that people don't see a need for broadband in their daily lives. He said that the evolution of data networks into always-on real-time access (AORTA) networks would lead to an increased number of networked devices in the home.

He predicted a future where washing machines, TVs, security systems and other electronically-controlled systems would all be networked, controlled and maintained by a virtual domestic supervisor. He even predicted the low-cost household items, such as tins of beans, would also have their own individual IP addresses, using the IPv6 protocol. This would allow intelligent supermarket shelves to order additional stock when required and would allow intelligent kitchen shelves to know whether or not an additional tin of beans is required.

Whitehead said technology would be driven by demographic changes in society, as the average household size falls towards one person per domestic unit and people turn to virtual communities for company and services. Robots would also be required to carry out tasks for which no humans are available. "Who do you think will be there to push your wheelchair around a nursing home, when we're not producing enough young people who will want to do that kind of thing?" he concluded.

Copyright © 2004, ENN

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