The Liberalization of Infrastructure
Edited by Matthias Finger and Rolf W. Künneke
Milton L. Mueller and Wolter Lemstra The Internet has brought about a new era in communications infrastructure. Since around 1994 the Internet protocols have provided the dominant networking platform for an expanding digital economy and digital society. The Internet is the basis for an open economy that links a growing array of digital devices to providers of information, software and services. It is no longer just a computer network, but also a way of linking computers with television, gaming systems and handheld mobile devices. Also, the Internet has led to new forms of communication (increasingly computer mediated), new modes of transacting (electronically mediated), new perspectives on property rights, new modes of organizing (networked) and new modes of social engagement (virtual networks). INTERNET: DEFINITION AND DISTINCTIVE FEATURES The Internet is not a hardware standard or a physical infrastructure. The Internet is a virtual infrastructure based on a set of software instructions (known as ‘protocols’) for transmitting data over networks.1 The Internet protocols – TCP/IP – can be used on wireless and wired networks, on copper and fibre networks, which can be used as the underlying communication platform for almost any kind of higher-level software application, such as the World Wide Web, word processing, streaming video, voice communication or games. It is a myth that the Internet was developed to provide the military with a communications capability that could survive a nuclear war. In reality, the Internet protocols were designed to facilitate the movement of all kinds of data across independently managed networks and...
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