Q&A: Vinton Cerf on the Internet’s Future

Vinton Cerf is widely recognized as one of the founding fathers of the Internet and currently holds the title of “chief Internet evangelist” at search giant Google Inc. In the latter role, Mr. Cerf often speaks publicly about the future of digital communications. In Hong Kong for an industry conference, Mr. Cerf spoke with The Wall Street Journal about trends in the Internet space, the implications of the temporary shut down of the Internet in Egypt earlier this month and censorship in China. He also spoke about the transition to a new protocol for Internet addresses called IP version six, or IPv6, and June’s upcoming World IPv6 Day, in which Internet giants Google, Facebook Inc. and Yahoo Inc. and others will switch over to the new addresses for one day in the first wide-scale test of the new network.

The following is an edited version of the interview.

WSJ: What is the future of the Internet?

Mr. Cerf: There are several trends which will carry the Internet over the next several years. First is mobile–mobile technology and the access to the Internet via mobile devices is becoming extremely important. We’re also seeing Internet infrastructure reach more deeply into places where there isn’t any–in places like Africa. Another trend is submarine cables and satellite capability while another trend is the ability to bring video and audio to entertainment devices in cars or homes using the Internet.

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