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Approaches to building an intelligent consumer-friendly network have evolved over time from centralized switch-based to router- and server-based Internet architectures. We propose to drive this evolution further with a new highly scalable architecture that provides features to users derived from the computational and networking capabilities of very large populations of sophisticated terminals. This architecture relies on emerging peer-to-peer overlay technology. We describe a peer-to-peer overlay design that addresses requirements crucial for consumer applications, including overlay federation, peer heterogeneity, peer mobility, and service discovery. In addition, we introduce the concept of an overlay operator and describe the requirements for managed overlays. We have designed and implemented both a middleware and a peer-topeer platform that illustrates these concepts.