From Habitat to Global Cyberspace



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Equipment
Present day cyberspaces are delivered using personal computers, and we expect this to continue. However, we also expect that broad acceptance of the Global Cyberspace Infrastructure will require the invention of a new device, which we, adopting telephone terminology, are tentatively calling the Cyberspace Terminal.
Unlike computer terminals of the past, a Cyberspace Terminal will have the capability of acting as both a client (consumer) and a server (provider) on the Global Cyberspace network. It will supply the potential for any user to offer ser­vices to anyone else.
It will combine the best features of telephones, televi­sions, and computers. Like all digital appliances, it is, in fact, a computer, but its personality will be completely dif­ferent. In most ways it will be more like a telephone than a computer or a television.
Like a telephone, it will be an instant‑on device, be ex­tremely reliable, and have simple operation. No waiting for it to warm up or bootstrap. It will always be ready to help in an emergency. Anyone who can speak or push a few buttons will be able to operate it. It will simply work.
It will also deliver high performance at low cost, as a result of both the trajectory of electronics technology development and con­sumer market pressures. And finally, it must be multime­dia capable. It must handle all the useful media formats of the future. This is particularly true of high‑quality mo­tion picture compres­sion, in whatever form this is finally developed. Eventually it may even be portable and wireless.
Network
A critical component of the Global Cyberspace Infrastructure is of course the network. International de­ployment of digital network tech­nology is already under­way, but it is arriving in various formats, with wildly varying bandwidth and cost. So the question arises: Is there a minimum bandwidth or specific data format re­quired for Cyberspace?
There are services which can operate adequately today using modems and dial‑up analog connections. Habitat is an example of such a service.
There are other services which are offered today, but are not really useful in their current form, and will require greater bandwidth in order to be truly viable. Electronic catalog shopping, for example, is a service that may be significantly improved by wide‑spread deployment of nar­rowband ISDN.
There are other services, such as delivery of video, which will require broadband ISDN, and we can speculate that in the future we will invent new services requiring even greater bandwidth.
The amount of bandwidth required for the Global Cyberspace Infrastructure is determined by the services to be offered rather than being some fundamental property of the medium itself. There are a few services which work ade­quately on analog lines with modems, some which require N‑ISDN, and others which require B‑ISDN.
The Global Cyberspace Infrastructure itself is indepen­dent of these pipeline issues. The more bandwidth avail­able, the greater the range of services that can be provided. It should gracefully adapt and scale to the increased capa­bilities of improved networking technologies.
The Global Cyberspace Infrastructure can be built on top of any network, so long as it can, with some degree of reliability, send packets of bits there and back again.



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