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China - Building a Better Internet

Posted by Daryl H. Bryant on: 2006-10-12 19:15:53

Self SEO > Internet Articles

The Internet is changing ever so fast. Every second there’s hundreds of new websites being born throughout the world. People and companies are growing their Internet-based businesses faster than every before. Our lives have become completely morphed by the software and websites that allow us to communicate with users across the globe. According to recent statistics from blog-tracking site Technorati, the blogosphere has doubled every six months for the last three years. That's 175,000 new blogs per day worldwide.

Ok, so you get it, the Internet is expanding and it’s expanding fast. Well how about the idea of a new Internet? An Internet that’s more secure and five times the speed of the current Internet we use today. Is this possible? How could the Internet be replaced by another version of the Internet? If you’re saying, that doesn’t make sense – think again.

In research labs throughout China, engineers are busy working on another project that the Chinese government plans to reveal at the 2008 Summer Olympics - China's Next Generation Internet (CNGI), a faster, more secure, more mobile version of the current one. If this becomes a reality, which supposedly is already well into the development phase, CNGI's impact will be felt for decades.

CNGI is the focus of China's plan to steal leadership away from the United States in all things Internet and information technology related. Their strategy, as outlined in their five year plan, states their plan to move away from the idea of manufacturing and more towards technological innovations and breakthroughs. They want to compete with the US on a level that has been dominated by the US for many years. "CNGI is the culmination of this revolutionary plan" to turn China into the world's innovation capital, says Wu Hequan, vice president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the chairman of the CNGI Expert Committee, the group overseeing the project. "We will use it as a way to break through and be competitive in the global economic market."

The technology, at the heart of CNGI, is an emerging communication standard called Internet protocol version 6 (IPv6). The current 30-year-old standard, IPv4 (IPv5 had issues and never made it as a successful version), doesn't have enough unique IP addresses for every possible user in the world to connect to the Internet. IPv6 solves this problem, and is more secure and efficient than its forerunning version. For these and other reasons, most experts agree that a shift to an IPv6-based Internet is inevitable.

What’s the reason for China to develop another version of the Internet?

Well if we look at the history of our Internet, we started off using an addressing system, IPv4. The addressing scheme uses a series of four decimal values, each of which can be a number from 0 to 255 (also known as 32-bit addressing). This provided us with a total of 4.3 billion possible addresses. In 1976, when computer engineers Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn developed IPv4, that seemed like plenty. "A longer address sounded just a little excessive in 1976," Cerf said at a government roundtable in 2004. "I mean, after all, the Internet was an experiment. So I thought, well, 4.3 billion addresses should be enough for an experiment."

Considering the Internet is primarily a US stronghold, over the years we have put a hold on more than 30% of all IP addresses and we’re continuing to do so at an increasing rate. So where does this leave China and other countries just trying to take a stake in the Internet? It leaves them with not much of an option. If these countries want to take control and become a dominant player in the Internet, then they must create another means – hence, the reason why China is creating IPv6. This new version of IP addressing, will solve the problem of running out of IP addresses. This new version will quadruple the number of decimal values from 4 to 16. This will result in nearly an infinite number of possibilities. This means that every person on this earth will be able to have 50 octillion IP addresses.

So where does this leave the US?

In my opinion, I’m very concerned about our future. Why? Well because we are currently doing nothing about working toward the adoption of IPv6 for our own purposes. This means that in a few years we will have to play catch-up to China. At that time it will be too late. If we begin to convert now, we can sustain the costs over the next few years. However, if we wait, it will be extremely costly for businesses to convert all at once. This means we will take a big hit - a big hit to our economy and a big hit to our dominance in technological innovation.

Ok, so now we understand the importance of the next Internet but what does this mean for China? Well in the near future, China plans to show the rest of the world just how advanced its Internet is at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. CNGI will control the facilities – everything from security cameras, lighting, thermostats, taxi cabs, computers and video monitors that will be used during the Olympics will have their own unique IP address. This means that they will have the ability to navigate their taxi cabs through highly trafficked areas, stream video to any monitor at any second and monitor their security cameras from any location. In the future, this means that China has the possibility to ultimately control the Internet, as the US does today. This will put a huge hole in the US economy. A very large percentage of our economy is being controlled by the Internet – this is a very serious problem and we must act now.

IPv6 has a very promising future and will probably be the next Internet that we will use for many years to come. The problem is we are not doing much about upgrading our existing Internet and hardware infrastructure. The US Department of Commerce and the Government say they are aware of the issue. Then why haven’t we heard anything yet about out plans to convert to IPv6? I think we must begin planning now and act as soon as possible. We are the United States of American, one of the strongest countries on earth but as time moves on, we are gaining more competition from other countries. We must begin to take control and compete on a much larger, more global scale.

We must not wait any longer. The time is now!

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