Internet economy

[Future of the Internet workshop] OECD Discussion Forum -- IPv6 Forum Contribution to the OECD Discussion Forum


[Future of the Internet workshop] OECD Discussion Forum -- IPv6 Forum Contribution to the OECD Discussion Forum, Latif Ladid, IPv6 Forum President. Jim Bound, IPv6 Forum Chief Technology Officer.

1. The Internet is now a critical infrastructure and a global platform for communication and commerce. What should be the role of governments in its development and management?

The prime role of governments should be to focus on the promotion of the Internet for the good of its citizens, and prevent the monopolization of the Internet by any entity, and assist where applicable to support open and fair trade practices. The worldwide penetration of the Internet is about 15% consuming 75% of the IPv4 address space and basically catering just for the elite of the world.  The formidable task ahead of us is to move the Internet from an elitist based driven view of the Internet to an Internet for everyone. Popularizing the Internet around the planet to the 6 Billion people would enable a digital lift so that every kid on planet will be a resident on the Internet and not just a simple sporadic tourist .  To make this happen will require key new technology upgrades, but to begin it will require major efforts to support the deployment of the new Internet protocol version 6(IPv6). Worldwide Penetration milestones of 25% by 2010, 35% by 2015 and 50% by 2020 are achievable if adequate resources and promotion efforts are deployed using Asia as a measuring stick.

2. The Internet is challenging existing business models. How can we ensure there is sufficient investment to meet the network capacity demands of new applications and of an expanding base of users?

Progress through Internet technologies and innovation will shape the new world of communication and create new business models that are far greater in scale and more efficient than current ones. The success of the Internet resides in its simplicity and low cost deployment structure enabling anything to run over IP or IP to run on anything. The Internet brings the ubiquity and scalability derived from its unregulated deployment and bottom-up designed innovation. The New Internet based on IPv6 will accelerate this trend as it will add the missing dimension of symmetrical and interactive two-way Internet while the current one is just a one-way Internet.

3. Innovation is taking place at the edges of the network. How do we ensure that this continues and how can it be enhanced?

The Edge only exists if you have true end-to-end hosts and networks. The end-to-end model is disappearing from the Internet today and its restoration is of paramount importance, and will be only achieved with immediate deployment of IPv6, a proven and currently working Internet Protocol.  It's then when we can have true innovation happening at the edge. Many innovations have been hampered in making it to a large scale innovation due to the lack of end-to-end. The end-to-end model is the best kept secret: It's simply from a source global IP address to a destination global IP address.

4. The Internet is perceived as not being secure, nor does it protect privacy. What steps should be taken to improve security and privacy and by whom?

Security and privacy happen at the edge. The new end-to-end security models introduced by IPv6 would need further research and vendor development as the current Internet security models are designed as perimeter security. IPv6 has built-in security fields with an end-to end view of security deployment. The privacy features introduced in IPv6 are built-in and would offer an enhanced deployment of privacy.

5 -  Ubiquitous networks are being deployed. What are the drivers of these developments? What will be the impacts on individuals and society?

IPv6 has been designed to cater for the many deployment scenarios, starting with extension of the packet technology and therefore supporting IPv4 with transition models to keep IPv4 working even for ever, and then to cater for new uses and new models that require a combination of features that were not tightly designed or scalable in IPv4 like IP mobility, end-to-end connectivity (not seeing the exhaustion of the IPv4 address space), end-to-end services, ad hoc services; to the extreme scenario where IP becomes a commodity service enabling lowest cost deployment of large scale sensor networks, RFID, IP in the car, to any imaginable scenario where networking adds value to commodity. This is called social progress too if one believe our lives are interrelated to technology, which the IPv6 Forum does believe.

[Future of the Internet workshop] OECD Discussion Forum -- RE: IPv6 Forum Contribution to the OECD Discussion Forum, Mark Handley

I'd like to reply to Latif's set of answers.  My concern is that many people on this list probably view IPv6 as being to low down in the networking stack to be of interest to them.

The main thing that IPv6 provides is more address space.  The IPv4 address space is running out; we're working around the problem using Network Address Translation (NAT) at the moment, rather than facing the problem head on.  So it's easy to view this as a technical issue that the technologists should solve.  It's not.

The problem is that addressing is the most fundamental part of the Internet, and it is through addressing (as reflected in routing protocols, etc) that almost all policy is expressed by Internet providers.  As we run out of IPv4 addresses, the Internet won't come crashing to a halt.  But the technical options will narrow.  The effect is that this stiffles what is possible, not only technically, but also from an economic and public policy point of view too.

There are sound reasons why we should switch to IPv6.  But there are real costs involved in doing so, and we can't ignore these.  In Europe and the US, providers are unlikely to switch early unless there's strong external pressure to do so.  And this is a problem, because the reasons Latif cited for why we want to switch to IPv6 are only the reasons we can see today.  But they obviously omit the opportunity cost of sticking with IPv4 - the new ways of using the network that we cannot see today, and that will not be possible within the straitjacket of IPv4.  Not switching to IPv6 denies us many of the new business models of the future.

Experience seems to show so far that in developed nations, IPv6 is not high on the list of priorities for commercial ISPs.  This should be obvious - there are short-term costs and no short-term payoff.  So, a fundamental question is how to provide external incentive for ISPs to switch to IPv6?

This is one of the most important enablers for the future.  And it's not primarily a technical problem anymore.