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A Wake-Up Call for the Internet

- October 8, 2009 - 0 Comments

Hello, from Geneva where I’ve been attending the ITU Telecom World Conference for the last few days. It’s been three years since the last show, and it’s energizing to see the ever increasing recognition as to the increased role that the network can play in improving business and change lives. While different sections of the show tend to focus on different topics, much of the discussion at the “Internet Pavilion” (hosted by ICANN, ISOC and NRO) by global leaders and attendees has been on the future of telecommunications.

One of the key concerns that surfaces when discussing the future of IT is the imminent depletion of IPv4 addresses and the need to accelerate deployment of IPv6 in the wake of massive growth of IP-enabled devices. I know, I know…IPv6 discussions have been around for awhile. But here are some real eye-openers gained this week that really show that this is a topic that must be addressed much sooner than later:

  • ITU forecasts the number of mobile subscriptions to top 4.6 billion by the end of this calendar year.
  • Wireless broadband subscriptions (600 million) exceeded fixed broadband subscribers in 2008.
  • A quarter of the word’s people – approximately 1.9 billion – have access to a computer at home (not to mention the proliferation of so many other mobile and IP-based devices)

These staggering growth statistics point to an inescapable fact that, at this rate, IPv4 won’t sustain our seemingly insatiable demand to permit more and more people, devices, and machines to benefit from the power of the network.

There are several approaches for service providers to address this issue, with one of the leaders in this space, Comcast, looking to provide end-to-end IPv6 services soon. As proof, they deployed such a service during Cisco Live in San Francisco earlier in summer. Here’s what their VP of Internet Services, Barry Tishgart, had to say to the network-centric gathering on this important topic:

The Internet has been served a wake-up call and that certainly has been reinforced here at ITU, and pioneers like Comcast are already showing one of the ways this challenge can be addressed for the benefit of the Internet (and all of us) in the not-to-distant future.

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