Internet headed for full capacity

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http://cbc.ca/cgi-bin/templates/print.cgi?/news/2001/08/28/net_full010828

Internet headed for full capacity WebPosted Tue Aug 28 15:32:02 2001

NEW YORK-- More and more devices are being connected to the Net palm pilots, cellphones, television sets. As demand increases, space is becoming limited. Some computer experts say a "No Vacancy" sign may soon be hanging at the door to the information highway.

The problem is with address space. There isn't enough of it. The current Internet communications system was designed for no more than 4.3 billion computers and devices. That was thought to be plenty of space 20 years ago.

Half the connection points are being used. And the estimated lifespan for the rest is five years.

Engineers are trying to shift users to a larger system with enough addresses for everyone to connect millions of devices each. But they say acceptance has been slow.

IPv6

In order to identify connected devices, the communications matrix uses a string of 32 digits. Each one is a "1" or "0." This system is called Internet Protocol version 4 or IPv4. The next version is IPv6 and uses 128 digits.

Changing to v6 will cost billions of dollars worldwide, requiring equipment and software to be replaced. Operating systems and applications will need updates. The foundations for v6 were largely completed in 1998, and it is being used sparsely.

Stan Schatt, a Giga Information Group analyst, believes v6 won't reach parity with v4 until at least 2006, and v6 won't dominate until 2010. He says the major problem is that providers are waiting for demand from customers and customers won't see benefits until products and services become widely available.

Opponents

But some say v6 solves a hypothetical problem and doesn't deal with some of the real problems already affecting the Net like how to more efficiently route Internet traffic. Critics also question the true demand for the emerging devices that promise to use up more addresses. They say we should find out how many people are really going to bring their refrigerators online before starting a major overhaul of the system.

-- Swissrose (cellier3@mindspring.com), August 30, 2001


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