Next Generation Internet Initiative

The Internet of the future should provide better services, more intelligence, greater involvement and participation. It needs to reflect the European social and ethical values: free, open and more interoperable.

Today, the internet is key to almost any socio-economic activity, a true value creator which reshapes economic and societal behaviours. This trend is irreversible and in 10 years from now the Internet will be an even more indispensable motor for socio-economic activity worldwide.

The internet creates unlimited opportunities to access information and entertainment, to interact and to assist us in our business and daily lives. Yet, there are still concerns around personal data and transparency. The internet should offer more to our society. It should provide better services and greater involvement and participation. It is essential that the next generation internet is designed for humans, so that it can meet its full potential for the society and economy.

The European Commission aims to shape this future internet as a powerful, open, data-driven, user-centric, interoperable platform ecosystem.

The Commission wants to build a strategy together with citizens and stakeholders (particularly researchers, SMEs and start-ups) to drive (via regulation, policy action and funding) the development of the internet for the benefit of EU companies and citizens in the next 10 years. Commissioner Ottinger proposed to Atomium to help the Commission to support the creation of this debate using REIsearch as platform and organising its next campaign on “Next Generation Internet Era”.


The NGII initiative is being launched by the EU Commission (DG CONNECT) to contribute shaping the future Internet as a powerful, open, data-driven, user-centric, interoperable platform ecosystem.

The scope of the European initiative is broad, addressing technological opportunities arising from advances in various research fields, extending from new network architectures and software-defined infrastructures to new concepts for services and applications. The objective is two-fold:

- From a technology & innovation point of view, the goal is to support the emergence of new European companies based on radically new business models and to support them to become global leaders in the Internet economy by capturing the opportunities offered by new technology breakthroughs;

- From a political and social point of view, the goal is to contribute to the evolution of the Internet offering radically new functionalities closely based on common values of creating more human-centric Internet for people. From this new human-centric perspective, the Internet should offer more at the service of people and society. It should provide better services, more intelligence, higher involvement and participation. It needs to reflect the European social and ethical values: free, open and more interoperable.

The initiative builds on past policy action and research, and is particularly focussed on overcoming the following issues:

  • Centralised governance: the original Internet design combined technical, organizational, and cultural characteristics that decentralized power along diverse dimensions. Decentralized institutional, technical, and market power maximized freedom to operate and innovate at the expense of control. Some market developments suggest that we are shifting to an Internet that facilitates the accumulation of power by a relatively small set of influential actors, thus limiting the choices and freedom of users and businesses.

  • Interoperability: from a user’s point of view, the Internet is made of a set of silos, of non-interoperable, proprietary platforms. While the Internet protocol itself remains open, other control points counter the dynamics of the early Internet, e.g. control over app stores, control over mobile cellular networks, concentration of data and software in a single spot in cloud computing, and influence on users to form beliefs and preferences via big data.

  • Functionalities: in terms of functionalities, the internet of today is primitive compared to what it will deliver in 10 years from now, with the anticipated explosion of data (Big Data), connections with the physical world (Internet of Things), and the intelligence of services raising to unexpected levels. The rapid pace of Internet development implies that in 10 years from now the Internet will be radically different. Driven by advances on data technologies, cloud, IoT, security requirements and new emerging technologies, radically new functionalities, new products/services where new market leaders will emerge.

The Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative makes use of ongoing research and policy activities, notably the roadmap-based research ongoing in areas such as 5G, IoT, cloud, data and cybersecurity.

The scope of the NGI initiative is set to be broad, addressing technological opportunities arising from. It may extend from new network architectures to open service platforms, and from software transforming application domains and intelligent services to aspects of social innovation. Validation in advanced experimental settings and testing market traction with minimum viable products are part of involving users and market actors at an early stage. In the development phase it is necessary to mobilise the best research circles and focus on a continuous technology exploration aimed at detecting the potential to generate breakthroughs in the market. This will include combining advancements of different research fields in a holistic and interdisciplinary fashion. The development phase will include a kick-off of a continuous consultation process providing a dynamic reflection and assessment on the Next Generation Internet elements, including emerging technology topics. The applied research necessary to market technology will harvest different, sometimes multidisciplinary, opportunities and will provide solutions to real problems. To carry out this applied research work requires the involvement of today’s best Internet innovators, the startups and SMEs, involved in a productive Internet research ecosystem with academia and corporates that will in the longer run enable European companies to become global champions.