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The Unpredictable Certainty: Information Infrastructure Through 2000

by NII 2000 Steering Committee

We have available an impressive array of information technology. We can transmit literature, movies, music, and talk. Government, businesses, and individuals are eager to go on-line to buy, sell, teach, learn, and more. How, then, should we go about developing an infrastructure for on- line communication among everyone everywhere? The Unpredictable Certainty explores the national information infrastructure (NII) as the collection of all public and private information services. But how and when will the NII become a reality? How will more and better services reach the home, small businesses, and remote locations? The Unpredictable Certainty examines who will finance the NII, exploring how technology companies decide to invest in deployment and the the vain search for "killer apps" (applications that drive markets). It discusses who will pay for ongoing services and how they will pay, looking at past cost/price models relevant to the future. The Unpredictable Certainty discusses the underlying technologies, appliances, and services needed before the NII becomes a reality; reviews key features of important technologies; and analyzes current levels of deployment in telephone, cable and broadcast television, and wireless systems, and the difficulties in interconnection. The volume explores the challenge of open interfaces that stimulate new applications but also facilitate competition, the trend toward the separation of infrastructure from specific services, the tension between mature services and new contenders, the growth of the Internet, and more. The roles governments at different levels might play in fostering NII deployment are outlined, including R&D and the use of information infrastructure for better delivery of government services and information.

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