In this column last week, I asked if it was time for the federal government to step in and help protect the Internet against security problems. I received a lot of interesting responses (most beginning with, "Are you nuts?"), but one that piqued my interest suggested that the government should build a powerful and much more secure Net for its own use and that, over time, the benefits of this next Internet would pass to the public Net.
When I read this response, I instantly thought, "Haven't we been talking about this for years? Doesn't this exist already?" Well, the answer is not really.
Many years ago, the government launched the Next Generation Internet Program. A quick check of www.ngi.gov shows that this program is now complete. So, did we build a powerful and secure new Net? No, but lots of good research into large-scale networking took place.
Another force behind future Internet technologies is the Internet2 Consortium (at www.internet2.org). It has done, and continues to do, very interesting work, including a cool recent demonstration where the contents of an entire CD-ROM were transferred from Alaska to Amsterdam in 13 seconds. But few of these technologies have made their way to the public Net.
This is too bad because we need these advances, not just because of the massive improvements in bandwidth and unique naming addresses but also because of the much-improved protocols that will make it much easier to secure the Internet.
Many old barriers should now be easier to overcome. Even hardware that is three years old has features such as IPv6 support that make it possible to handle advanced networking.
So where's my next Internet? I think it's about time for it.
Will the next-generation Internet ever come? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.