The Second Internet
So what did happen to IPv1, IPv2 and IPv3? Well, TCP went through three versions (including all the
functionality of IP) before IP was split out into a separate protocol in RFC 791. So, IP began its
independent existence at version 4 (kind of like Windows NT starting life at version 3.1).
No protocols called IPv1, IPv2, IPv3 or IPv5 ever existed. IPv4 was the first release of the Internet
Protocol (1G Internet), and IPv6 is the second release (2G Internet). Hence my name for the Internet
based on it: the Second Internet.
There have been rumors about an IPv9 protocol in China. A Venture Capital firm in Hong Kong actually
asked me if China was already that far ahead of the rest of the world, and shouldn’t we be supporting
their version? It seems some researcher in a university there published a paper on an “IPv9”, but it was
never implemented, and wasn’t a replacement for IPv4 (let alone IPv6) anyway. It was a way to use 10
digit decimal phone numbers in a modified DNS implementation instead of alphanumeric domain
names, for all nodes on the Internet. I guess if you speak only Chinese, a 10 digit numeric string may
seem easier to use than an English domain name using Latin characters. Fortunately for Chinese
speakers, we will soon have Internationalized Domain Names in Chinese and other languages.
Actually, there is a real RFC about IPv9, which you might enjoy reading. See RFC 1606, “A Historical
Perspective On The Usage of IP Version 9”, April 1, 1994. This has nothing to do with the Chinese IPv9,
and is much funnier. This RFC is a network engineer’s equivalent to an integrated circuit data sheet I
once saw, concerning a logic gate (circuit) called a “maybe gate”. This gate is similar to “or gates”, “and
gates” and “nand gates”. There were two inputs to the maybe gate, each of which could be logic 0 or
logic 1. The output was “maybe 1, maybe 0”, it all depended on how the gate felt right then. Please
notice the release date of RFC 1606.
1.8 – Let’s Eliminate the Middle Man
One of the things that the Second Internet does better than anything is disintermediation. Just as e-mail
eliminated the need for a central Post Office, the features of the Second Internet will eliminate the need
for many existing centralized organizations and services. With a real decentralized end-to-end
connectivity model, there is no need for two users to connect to a central server (such as AOL’s Instant
Messenger Service) in order to chat with each other. They will simply connect directly to each other.
That’s hard to do today, because of NAT.
The restoration of the original (pre-NAT) flat address space, and the plethora of addresses will allow
anyone or anything to connect directly to anyone or anything on the Second Internet. It’s going to be a
very different online world. Many business models will go by the way, and many new ones will explode
on the scene and make some new entrepreneurs very wealthy. Someone will need to provide
centralized directory and presence servers that will let people locate each other, so that they can
connect directly to each other.
A number of years ago, a gentleman in my previous home town of Atlanta, Georgia (home to Coka-Cola,
and UPS) had a small UHF TV station (WTBS, Channel 17) that mostly broadcast old movies and Atlanta
Braves baseball, both of which he loved. He was one of the first people to realize that he could relay his
TV station’s signal through a transponder on a geo-stationary satellite (“that’s a really tall broadcast