New Internet Protocol Passes 13-Day Test

The Chronicle of Higher Education

April 2, 2004

A 13-day test of a new communications system for the Internet that would expand the number of possible online addresses has shown that the technique would be reliable and secure. The passing grade could speed its acceptance, said officials from academe and industry.

The new communications system, called Internet Protocol version 6, or IPv6, could become the new standard. The existing protocol, which was developed in the 1970s, is limited by the number of Internet addresses that it can handle, stifling the expansion of the Internet by forcing computers to share a single Internet address.

By contrast, IPv6 can handle many more Internet addresses, like those of Internet-ready cellphones, and will allow each device connected to the Internet to have a unique address.

The tests, which ran in mid-March, were conducted at the University of New Hampshire's Interoperability Laboratory, using a network called Moonv6, which used IPv6. That network comprised links stretching from California to New Hampshire. The Abilene high-speed network, operated by the Internet2 consortium, also was a part of Moonv6.

The tests included the transmission of video across the network and checks on the security technology used to prevent hacking attacks.

The new protocol showed that, unlike the current Internet protocol, it can differentiate among different types of uses of the network and assign higher priority to some. For example, an IPv6 network could be configured to favor live video transmissions -- to maintain their picture and sound quality -- over the transmission of e-mail messages, which are not degraded by delays.

Although the tests have ended, Moonv6 remains in place and available for research, said R. Richard Summerhill, associate director of backbone-network infrastructure for Internet2.
Section: Information Technology
Volume 50, Issue 30, Page A37

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