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Saturday, November 04, 2006

IPV6, China, Asia : The Shifting Internet Power

More than 15 months ago, I spotted the determined moves that China was making on IPV6. Chinese attempt at control involves the Internet's physical infrastructure. Within China, the Web looks more and more like a giant office network every day, centralized by design. Last month, China announced its latest build-out—the "Next Carrying Network," or CN2. This massive internal network will be fast, but it will also be built by a single, state-owned company and easy to filter at every step. Its addressing system (known as IPv6) is scarcely used in the United States and may make parts of the Chinese Internet and the rest of the world mutually unreachable.

Bob Cringley brings forth the issue very well. In the current addressing scheme, China received a very small number of IP addresses, and this was causing them a lot of difficulty. If they stayed with the existing system it would have resulted in a nasty network kludge. So they made a national decision to implement IPv6 and put in a good network design. With IPv6 China has the address space they need and it is working well for them. Of course, the rest of the world is still on the old system and to communicate with China an address translation is needed. This is becoming a pain. Countries who want to do lots of business with China or who want to do lots of business through the Internet (India) are now seriously looking at their own IPv6 plans. He points to this as leadership through good example. China has done something very impressive and now others are taking notice. The US thinks that it controls the Internet, but China is proving otherwise. While China is building a national resource, the US government is letting companies turn the public Internet into an expensive private toll road. This is yet another case of the power shift towards Asia – afterall, Asia has more than 1/3rd of the internet users in the world. With the changing footprints ofinnovation, the future of the net looks interestingly poised.

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