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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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