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China's state ISP rolls out next generation standard

The ever-present desire for censorship may be the carrot, but for whatever reason China has a head start on adopting IPv6.  Even as the U.S. moves sluggishly towards the next generation internet address protocol, 3TNet -- China's state-provided broadband internet and public video service -- has made the switch.

The upside of IPv6 is one that's likely highly desirable in China -- more space.  IPv4, the previous standard, only allows 4.3 billion unique web addresses.  With over a billion people, China may surpass that total in domestic pages alone.

IPv6 is also expected to beef up security.  Using a technology called Source Address Validation Architecture (SAVA), IPv6 networks establish a relationship based on multiple trusted interactions across a network.  This can help beat so-called "IP spoofing" attacks, and advances the current version of IPv6 over less secure earlier versions.

A U.S. Navy sponsored report made public this week, authored by the New England Complex Systems Institute, listed identity trust and the lack of addressing space as the two biggest shortcomings of the widespread and successful IPv4.

China internet
Running out of room, China has turned to IPv6 for more space and security.
[Image Source: Digital Trends]

That's not to say IPv6 doesn't have its potential problems as well.  While the new protocol increases addressing space by 80 trillion or so, some fear it provides too fine grain identification, eliminating anonymity on sensitive locations like private networks.  There's also fear that the technology's ability to uniquely identify traffic sources could be overstated by the layman (as people could still hack into your device and do mischief on your precise IP).

Ultimately China may be eager to de-anonymize its citizens as well.  The nation has long fought to control its citizens' internet activities; now it has a far finer form of tracking.  However, it may not be immediately available to bump its domestic surveillance capabilities, as the extra information requires extra data mining and new analysis algorithms to store and process into useful results.

Ethernet Cables
[Image Source: Boot Click]

For now, Chinese citizens are mostly enjoying the benefits of IPv6 alone -- more space and more security.  Donald Riley, an information systems specialist at the University of Maryland, who also chairs the Chinese American Network Symposium, says that China is far ahead of the U.S. in IPv6 deployment.  In an interview with New Scientist, he comments on 3TNet, "China has a national internet backbone in place that operates under IPv6 as the native network protocol. We have nothing like that in the US."

China is also leading the U.S. in some other high tech ventures, such as deploying high speed rail.

Sources: RSTA [abstract], New Scientist

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RE: Increased by 80 Trillion?
By dgingerich on 3/11/2013 9:19:56 PM , Rating: 2

allowing for 2^128, or approximately 3.4×10^38 addresses,

yeah, that's a few more than 80 trillion.

RE: Increased by 80 Trillion?
By inighthawki on 3/11/2013 10:20:36 PM , Rating: 1
I'm not sure why they bothered going for 128 bit addresses. 64-bit addresses are more than enough to give every person and company on the planet a million times more addresses than they could feasibly use.

RE: Increased by 80 Trillion?
By drycrust3 on 3/12/2013 6:09:07 AM , Rating: 1
Because IP addresses are like Moore's Law, where the increase in CPU speed creates a demand for more speed, so the same applies for IP addresses: having more gives people new ideas on how to use the surplus addresses, which in turn creates new demand for the addresses.

RE: Increased by 80 Trillion?
By Solandri on 3/12/2013 2:26:39 PM , Rating: 2
Not in this case. The number of IPv6 addresses is enough to give about 50,000 trillion trillion unique IPs to each person on earth. Even with Moore's law, there's no way we'd ever use all of them.

The reason they made so many addresses is for sparse allocation. Just because an entity has been assigned a block of addresses doesn't mean all those addresses will be used. In fact the worst case is if all those addresses are used. You don't start off at an address of 1, assign the next person 2, the next person 3, etc. You assign blocks of addresses to countries, which assign blocks of addresses to ISPs, which assign blocks of addresses to customers like companies, which assign blocks of addresses to departments, which assign blocks of addresses to LANs, which assigns an individual IP to each computer.

At each step of the above, you want to assign more addresses than the country / ISP / customer / etc could ever conceivably use. That way not only are all the addresses that entity receives contiguous, but you never have to revisit it and allocate them more (non-contiguous) addresses because they used up everything you initially allocated to them.

So there ends up being a lot of addresses which could potentially be used but never are. You want your IP space to be big enough to cover all this potential use without running out of numbers.

RE: Increased by 80 Trillion?
By dgingerich on 3/12/2013 8:11:01 AM , Rating: 2
I, personally, have 6 computers (three desktops, a laptop, and two tablets) and one printer that use IPs. In addition, I have a total of 14 virtual machines that I use for training. So, without NAT, I would be using 21 IP addresses. That's up from just 8 a year ago. Who knows how big virtualization is going to inflate these numbers. I'd say there's significant cause to consider 128-bit addressing.

RE: Increased by 80 Trillion?
By mcnabney on 3/12/2013 10:14:12 AM , Rating: 4
but you ARE using NAT. Which means that you could have thousands of devices, but still use the same number of IP addresses - one. So in your lifetime your IP address consumption has stagnated at one.

Technically we could forgo IPv6 if all ISPs would virtualize, but the transition is inevitable and ultimately simpler.

RE: Increased by 80 Trillion?
By talikarni on 3/12/2013 3:59:24 PM , Rating: 2
Thats the issue though. There may be billions of routers all using 192.168.x.x, which is fine for smaller internal networks.... but once you start figuring in all the devices, connections, routers, etc, then all the websites, the main issue becomes routing. Lets use my house for example: modem, 2 routers, 2 smart phones, 3 tablets, 2 printers, 9 PCs, 4 Virtual machines, 2 Wiis, PS3, wifi streaming music player device... that is 28 in a single household. Add in new devices coming out like smart TVs and new smart fridges and so many more connected devices, and it would easily come to over 100 per household, and 1000 per small business.
DRS (dynamic routing servers for IPv6) will need to know where that IPv6 address is since it cannot rely on NAT or DNS anymore. When the home has 3 dozen IPv6 connections, how is the DRS to know your location without some sort of "here I am" algorithm, which is where the privacy concerns come in? Sure, new IPv6 compatible routers could be set to keep a register of each IPv6 address for internal routing, but what happens when it gets a request from the outside world for an internal IPv6 device/address or the router gets hacked? This is why China speeding ahead with this without proper security in place is just a bad idea, and internal versus external IPs are still needed. The current flawed IPv6 is too much like modern Mac addresses, each device is unique, there is no separation of the internal network and external network addresses, so routing becomes massively more complex on a large scale.

This is why IPv6 sounds good on a large scale, but for small scale home or small business usage, there is no need to upgrade when the current system works fine.

RE: Increased by 80 Trillion?
By menting on 3/12/2013 9:18:56 AM , Rating: 2
with the pain of getting people switched over from ipv4 to ipv6, you probably only want to do this once ever, so 128 bits is a good idea.

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