Internet World: Lucent CEO predicts 'network of networks'

The Internet might be a force to be reckoned with, and wireless phones may have changed our lives in ways no one could have imagined a generation ago, but the true revolution is yet to come.

That was the message Lucent Technologies CEO Richard McGinn delivered in a keynote address at Spring Internet World in Los Angeles Wednesday. The convergence of the Internet with the land-based and wireless phone networks will create a powerful "network of networks" that will dramatically change the way we live and work, he said.

"The next generation of services will be delivered seamlessly, by a network of networks that will combine the best of voice and data, wireless and wireline," McGinn said. "We're moving into an era in which networks of all kinds will converge into a unified whole." When this happens, "more data products will become voice-enabled, and more voice products will become data-enabled," and companies will "build more intelligence into the devices that hook up to networks," he said.

He rattled off a string of statistics to back up his predictions. Wireless telephone users could number 700 million within four years -- a figure equal to the number of new telephone lines expected to be installed in homes and businesses during that period. Spending on online advertising could reach $2bn (£1.2bn) next year, he said.

This telecommunications explosion, along with the continuing doubling of IP traffic every three to four months, is occurring "even before truly refined applications and high bandwidth are available," McGinn said. "The Internet will gain speed, power and flexibility when it is part of a network of networks," he said.