Internet Leadership: Another Opportunity for Southern California
Alex Lightman, CEO, IPv6 Summit, Inc.

There have only been about 60 million Californians, compared to over 60 billion humans. Californians thus represent only about 1 in every 1,000 humans that have ever lived, yet California dreaming has been the source of some the most imaginative products and services in history. Arguments could be made for which of these brainstorms was the most useful, but there is a strong case for packet switched networks (conceived by Paul Baran of Santa Monica’s RAND), which largely contributed to the creation of the Internet.

This is one of LA’s two major claims to be the inventors of the Internet, the other deriving from when Len Kleinrock helped set up the first node of the Internet in 1968, linking Kleinrock’s UCLA (where he is still affiliated to this very day) with UCSB, Stanford Research Institute and the University of Utah (where computer graphics, later to transform Hollywood, was being contemporaneously invented by Ivan Sutherland).

The advent of Internet Protocol version 6 offers an opportunity again for Southern California to lead. IPv6 is very far along – the specifications have existed for nearly ten years, router companies like Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and NEC include IPv6, and most of the latest versions of popular operating systems (including Windows XP, Linux, OS X, Palm 6.0, and EPOC) support IPv6 in some fashion. However, there are almost no applications, no content, and no big success stories. The omens are good – very good, in fact – for Southern Californians, and LA innovators in particular, to become leaders, and capitalize on the imagination of others to generate hundreds of new systems, networks, services and empires based on IPv6, the New Internet.

Details of IPv6 could fill a book (in fact, as an Amazon search will indicate, 15 books), but the basic features are as follows:

The net effect of all these features of IPv6 is to enable a whole new ballgame for the Internet, one that Southern California is better positioned to achieve. Michael Porter’s 700 page The Competitive Advantage of Nations hammers home the point that national competitive advantage is based on regional clusters of excellent companies that are so good at competing with (and hiring from and cooperating with) their neighbors that they blow away the rest of the world when they meet head to head.

Southern California has several advantages, including Hollywood as the home of nearly 500,000 entertainment industry workers, including 100,000 in the movie and video industry alone. IPv6 efficiencies for configuration (plug and ping), Jumbograms (which can encapsulate multiple seconds of 24 frame/second high definition video per packet), and End-to-End can make improvements. There are also advantages for computer gaming, especially as Massively Multiplayer Online games continue to proliferate. The mobility features will be very useful for automobile safety, fleet management, and, of course, mobile phone users and content producers. San Diego, the self-proclaimed wireless capital of the world based on Qualcomm’s leadership in CDMA, could become the 4G capital if its cluster woke up to the possibilities and advantage of IPv6. There are also regional Internet leaders, such as ICANN (which effectively governs the Internet from Marina Del Rey), CENIC (broadband connections between 8,000 campuses), and Cal-(IT)2 (the $500 million Internet-centric research institute jointly operated by UCSD and UCI), as well as USC’s ISI (which did the IPv6 implementation for Microsoft Windows XP) and USC's Institute for Creative Technologies.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of Southern California is its close connection with the Department of Defense. DoD CIO John Stenbit (also from Los Angeles) mandated a transition to IPv6 by the entire DoD by 2008. The DoD has an annual IT budget of $25 billion. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) is also planning to require IPv6, and with DoD accounts for over half the federal IT budget. LA companies are well positioned to get contracts related to IPv6 because LA not only has the expertise, but is also a target for terrorists, and needs all the mobile, secure, ad hoc networking help it can get.

Southern California’s final advantage is that the IPv6 summits take place here, bringing the best experts in the world to the area and allowing for brainstorming and networking and entrepreneurial alliance forming that could form the basis for a regional IPv6 cluster of world-leading companies. The North American IPv6 Summit will be held June 15 through 17 with 30 leading authorities, including Vint Cerf (who led the implementation of IPv4 for DARPA), the director of the DoD IPv6 Transition Office, and the head of Cybersecurity for the DHS. Preceding the conference, on June 14 there will be a tutorial and a security workshop, each a day long. The cost is $399 for the conference and $199 for the workshops.

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