Researcher claims next generation internet will arrive quietly

June 25, 2014 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Someday soon, the world will migrate away from the old, original Internet to a new, next-generation Internet with far better security, greater mobility and many other improved features, but most of us will never know the change has occurred, says computer science researcher Arun Venkataramani of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

"There will be no flag day, no hour when someone flips a switch to move us all over to the new Internet. Instead, the transition will be gradual, one small group at a time," he explains. "Each new app or piece of software will be adopted safely by ever widening circles of users, until one day the old Internet will just be gone and a new one, more deliberately designed and built than the old one, will be up and running. It will be seamless."

Venkataramani is the lead architect for one of the many research teams funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) who are now developing and testing next-generation hardware, software and applications to address difficult, systemic shortcomings of the old Internet. He and colleagues at UMass Amherst recently received a two-year, $1.35 million NSF grant for the next phase of the MobilityFirst project.

MobilityFirst researchers at UMass Amherst, in collaboration with colleagues at seven other partner institutions, will field-test the new architecture through three deployments: a context-aware emergency notification system coordinating with the CASA network of weather radars and the National Weather Service for end users in Texas; a content delivery network of public broadcasting stations and the PennREN network in Pennsylvania, and a wireless service provider, "5Nines," in Madison, Wis.

Today's Internet, really a network of networks
, grew slowly, as an overlay on top of the telephone system, Venkataramani says. Its users trusted one another and did not foresee its tremendous success, nor the need to guard against malware, hostile denial of service (DoS) and other attacks that are common today. "As a result, the Internet continues to remain vulnerable to severe attacks that can be launched by adversaries with very little resources," he points out.