Have you ever wondered how living would be if Internet Protocol (IP) never existed? Well, I did recently and the pictures I saw depicted plainness, interaction constraints and endless boredom. Let’s face it, we’d never have Facebook, Gmail or Twitter accounts, Skype won’t offer us any free call and you’d probably never get to read this article. Worse, after typing and printing our mails we’d still have to find a nearby post office to have it sent. Your documents will never be accessible online and you will not be able to share data with your acquaintances worldwide. Worst, your doctor will not know when you’re sick and are actually pinging his BB for drug prescription. You won’t have the alternative option of sending emails to your wife and kids on New Years’ eve if the mobile network were congested. And when you’re out of funds, you’ll remain broke till you find your banking branch because there’ll be no ATMs (I guess you remember how things were before banks’ branches began sharing common databases). Of course, we’d live, survive and adapt, if there was no IP technology. But the ease that IP has brought us should render us forever grateful to both Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf who invented the internet protocol.
Internet protocol is one the most useful technologies that allow the information generated when you make phone calls, start video conferences or surf the internet to leave your end and arrive at the desired destination at the proper quality of service and also returns the response from the other end to your own device within several seconds. The information at the sender or initiator’s end are converted from the original forms of voice, video or data into ones and zeroes and conveyed as bits, bytes, frames and packets along the network until they arrive at the recipient’s device where final reconversion occurs and the user receives an intelligible message. However, when certain transmission, congestion or reception issues occur along the line, the user end device (a phone, laptop or any other portable internet device) displays funny messages like: error loading page, error in network connection, network busy, the page you have requested cannot be displayed will you refresh? And the likes.
Over the years, IP has evolved from IPv4 to IPv6, but its function has remained unchanged. While the IPv4 allows us to have world wide webs and internet application accessibility, the IPv6 is an upgrade of IPv4 providing us with hundreds of trillions of trillions and trillions addresses. So, there are now more than enough web addresses available for our future use. Today, telecom service providers (GSM, CDMA, SATCOM), internet service providers (Cybercafés, Local ISPs, etc) and corporate users (Banks, Job recruitments agencies, hospitals, etc), use IP either a backbone or backup communication medium. Without internet protocol, all the multibillion-dollar companies (amazon, ebay, facebook, Bloomberg, etc) cropping in liquid cash over a vast economic region would never exist and the world wouldn’t be as small as the global online village it presently is.
But then, the issues of viruses, internet fraud, online pornography and lack of privacy were hardly of any effect before the intervention of the internet and its protocol. Hackers could only hack their own computers and if they existed, viruses were isolated to their host PCs. McAfee Inc. describes the Ghostball virus, one the earliest computer virus ever reported, as a 2.351Kilobyte that corrupts the files on the host system and spreads to any disk drive interfaced with the host. As such, without connecting another drive to the computer, physically or via IP networking, other PCs around remain safe. Also, the problems of pornographic pop-ups will not exist and users’ private information will not be at risk on the internet. Other effects of the internet include the addiction and isolation of users as evidenced by the behaviours of many subscribers of social networking sites. Whether falsified or not, facebook.com currently states that their active membership base as 800 million while unconfirmed facts from Twop Charts suggest that Twitter has a total of about 438 million users. A great percentage of both sets of users, especially those who use the social networking for fun, are addicts. I just took a test at Net Addiction’s website and guess what? Just two points kept me within the average internet user rating.