Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Dubai meeting to decide future of the internet

A crucial decision on the future of the internet will be made at a meeting in Dubai.

A crucial decision on the future of the internet will be made at a meeting of industry professionals in Dubai this week. A body that oversees the regional distribution of internet protocol (IP) addresses - the unique numbers that identify every device connected to the internet - will make a decision on migrating to a new addressing system that can cope with the explosive growth of the global network. The current IP address format means that only 4.3 billion unique addresses can be generated, a supply widely predicted to be exhausted by late 2010. The new format, known as IP Version 6 (IPv6), allows for considerably more: 79 billion billion billion times as many as the current system. But migrating to this system requires a co-ordinated effort by internet providers, one that the organisers of this week's meeting hope to reach consensus on. "We knew for more than 10 years that we would run out of addresses," said Axel Pawlik, the managing director of the RIPE Network Coordination Centre (NCC). "But the reach of the internet has grown much faster than a lot of people expected, so now it is more important to find solutions." The meeting comes at a time when engaging the internet community in the Middle East - where internet use is growing faster than anywhere else - is of increasing importance to the organisations that govern the internet. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which manages the allocation of website domain names, will meet next month in Cairo. Earlier this year it committed to a series of reforms, including allowing website addresses to be written in Arabic script. RIPE, an independent non-profit organisation based in Amsterdam, manages the allocation of IP addresses in Europe, the Middle East and parts of Central Asia. The transition to the new addressing standard will take many years, involving billions of dollars of hardware and software upgrades by internet providers around the world. In the meantime, said Mr Pawlik, the internet community will need to develop a system to manage the distribution of an increasingly scarce number of addresses. "We foresee that there may be something like a market developing," he said. "A system to manage the transfer of IP addresses will be important." While a market for addresses would make sense once they became a scarce resource, there will be a number of legal and technical hurdles to such a trade. Creating a framework for the transfer of IP addresses between different parties will be a key topic of -discussion at this week's meeting. In an ideal world, Mr Pawlik said, internet providers would agree to migrate en masse to the new IPv6 system. But in practice, the process will be a complicated and messy mixture of technical and political bargaining and compromise. "If everybody suddenly agrees to pack up and move over to the new system, that would be the best outcome," he said. "It is also the most unlikely." tgara@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2014 will run until April 24, 2014. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National.

In pictures: Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2014 opens
at Adnec

Key developments and master plans are being unveiled at this year’s property exhibition in the capital.

 Marina Square apartments Reem Island: Q1 2% rise. Studio - Dh65-68,000. 1BR - Dh75-95,000. 2BR - Dh110-145,000. 3BR - Dh170-190,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 no change. Sammy Dallal / The National

In pictures: Where Abu Dhabi rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Abu Dhabi have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Designed by London-based Thomas Heatherwick, founder of Heatherwick studio, the park will feature an outdoor cinema, an organic garden, picnic areas and cafes and restaurants. Photo courtesy Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation

Futuristic Abu Dhabi park to be built in the desert shade

Spread over 125,000 square metres, Al Fayah Park, on Airport Road, will be covered by a sand-coloured canopy, 20 metres high, with the appearance of cracked desert land from above.

 Room with a view from one of the 21 duplex penthouses located in the Gate Towers sky-bridge. The sports courts and swimming pools can be seen below. Courtesy Alda

In pictures: Aldar’s Gate Towers Penthouse Collection on Reem Island

Aldar launched its Gate Towers Penthouse Collection at Cityscape Abu Dhabi. The launch features 21 penthouses spanning the skybridge, with each having a private indoor pool and incredible views.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National