Andreu Veà: In Spain, it’s nev­er been some­thing indi­vid­ual with teams. In my team, I start­ed in 1992; typ­i­cal con­nec­tion of the uni­ver­si­ty in Barcelona, Spain. And then I cre­at­ed the fourth ISP—Internet Service Provider, also in Barcelona. Because nobody had the chance to con­nect but the uni­ver­si­ties, and most of the com­pa­nies were ask­ing us for con­nec­tiv­i­ty. That was in 1994, 1995. And lat­er on, I was select­ed by the sec­ond tele­com com­pa­ny, try­ing to open the monop­oly that was Telefónica for Spain. And I was the direc­tor of the Internet there. 

Intertitle: Describe one of the break­through moments of the Internet in which you have been a key participant?

Veà: Well, one of the things that I’m most proud of is launch­ing the free access in Spain. That means free, as we were a tel­co car­ri­er at the time in 1999. We devel­oped a sys­tem in order to give free access. 

After, that we made the flat rate one year lat­er. Flat rate mean­ing that until that time it was only metered. Every minute you had to pay. So we cre­at­ed a flat rate, which meant that in one year we dou­bled Internet pop­u­la­tion of users in Spain. I am very proud of that.

And lat­er on I was involved also in the cre­ation of ESPANIX, the Spanish Neutral Internet Exchange and anoth­er two NICs, which are CATNIX and GalNIX. In dif­fer­ent parts of Spain, we cre­at­ed dif­fer­ent neu­tral Internet exchanges. Against the tel­co oper­a­tors. They did­n’t want it at the begin­ning. Now they’re real­ly hap­py with them. But at the begin­ning it was real­ly tough to cre­ate that. I am real­ly proud of cre­at­ing [them], and I was the pres­i­dent lat­er on for a few years. These are prob­a­bly I would say the most impor­tant things I have been involved with. 

Intertitle: Describe the state of the Internet today with a weath­er anal­o­gy and explain why.

Veà: I would say it’s a lit­tle cloudy. It’s a lit­tle cloudy about not respect­ing I would say the orig­i­nal terms that the Internet was cre­at­ed [with]. Not every­body is shar­ing, not every­body is… There’s always this big ten­sion against free, and then walled gar­dens every­where. Big com­pa­nies try­ing to change the rules. I’m talk­ing about Facebook, I’m talk­ing about big tel­co car­ri­ers, where they want to cre­ate not neu­tral nets. But this is human­i­ty. We are always doing these things, right. 

I am partly…with a big hope. Because the Internet is chang­ing every­thing. Every sec­tor, every­thing. But we are 5 bil­lion peo­ple but we need to con­nect 5 bil­lion more peo­ple. Not every­body knows to read and to write, or even to use a com­put­er. But we are talk­ing. Everybody knows how to speak. That means that prob­a­bly I would say voice over IP will be the the next [indis­tinct] appli­ca­tion for most of the coun­tries that are not devel­oped and don’t have con­nec­tiv­i­ty. They will see the Internet as a cheap I would say tele­phone. And they will start using it. 

Intertitle: What are your great­est hopes and fears for the future of the Internet?

Veà: Probably the biggest con­cern is if the Internet gets bro­ken in pieces. And one of the best things now is that the Internet is one. It’s unique and you can con­nect, end-to-end, every­where. We have start­ed see­ing in places like China that they have their own DNS sys­tems, the fire­walls. So they’re break­ing the Internet in dif­fer­ent pieces. So for me, this is a big con­cern because if they start putting you know, like coun­try codes that different…it’s not unique any­more, that’s a big con­cern for me. And lat­er on, the intru­sion of coun­tries which are not real­ly demo­c­ra­t­ic,” I would say, try­ing to con­trol the Internet. That’s for me a big concern. 

Well, when we see that we can give access to every­body, one of my goals is to con­nect this next 5 bil­lion peo­ple that we need to con­nect. And imag­ine that you can give Wikipedia access to every­body. I mean every­body. And this is real­ly dif­fi­cult. It’s still dif­fi­cult. Because the Internet some­times, espe­cial­ly in rur­al areas, is not easy to deploy. It’s not easy because it’s expen­sive. But my hope is that this is like a vir­tu­al cir­cle that when you give access to a com­mu­ni­ty, that com­mu­ni­ty gets con­nect­ed. As more users get con­nect­ed, the wide­band price drops. If it drops, you can con­nect more, and more peo­ple get con­nect­ed there. Then you have more appli­ca­tions, more peo­ple devel­op­ing. And then, it’s the com­mu­ni­ty. And every time the prices drop. And this is real­ly good for many places. Which does­n’t hap­pen every­where, in all the mar­kets. But in this case, the wide­band prices are drop­ping real­ly real­ly fast. 

Intertitle: What action should be tak­en to ensure the best pos­si­ble future?

Veà: Keep it open. Try to keep it open. Try to keep it neu­tral. This is real­ly impor­tant. And to teach as many engi­neers as we have been doing until now, in most of the places. And to teach them the cul­ture of open­ness, neu­tral­i­ty, to share. That’s why the OSI pro­to­cols lost the war. Because they were real­ly by the book, real­ly com­pli­cat­ed. And the TCP/IP solu­tion was what they called quick and dirty,” but it worked. And it won the pro­to­col wars because of this impor­tant thing of…I would say of shar­ing and these prin­ci­ples that the Internet has.