The Day the Routers Died

February 4, 2011 | By | Reply More

This cute song is about a serious issue.

The Web is technically part of the Internet, descended from Arpanet. Way back when the addressing protocol was established, they figured that 4 bytes were sufficient. After all, there were about 10,000 computers in the world, and 4 bytes is over 4 billion addresses. It was the standard.
But as personal computers emerged, and then the web grew, it soon became clear that this legacy would be a problem. So in the 1990’s, they set up a new standard, IPv6.

But there are already more websites than available addresses. This is done by clumsily sub-networking most websites. But even with this, we are running out of addresses.

So, why don’t Internet providers simply switch? Much like why we are still using the clumsy QWERTY keyboard standard, designed to patch around a technical problem that was fixed over 100 years ago. The routers are used to the old standard, and are expensive to change. Part of the pain is that the new protocol is completely different, so a router has to handle both and be able to translate between. But change they must.

As of this month (February 3, 2011), every old IPv4 address has been assigned. There are no more. And networks that have not yet upgraded to the 1998 IPv6 standard will not be able to see new websites. Thus the old routers must die.

Most of us are protected in a subnet, as on a home or office network re-routed from a T1, cable, or DSL connection. But your computer still needs to be able to handle the new addresses to let you see external sites that are no longer using the older protocol.

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Category: computers, Current Events, History, Humor, Internet, Media, Networking

About the Author ()

A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

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