Worldview Tech Item of the Day
It turns out that the current system for allowing computers to communicate with each other over what is now the Internet was never designed for the sheer number of devices that now use that system to communicate. With the number of people starting to use the Internet continuing to grow by hundreds of percent every year, the simple fact of the matter is that the Internet will eventually run out of addresses.
In 1995, the international standards body responsible for addressing such issues came up with a new way to provide addresses that would allow many, many times more devices to access the Internet. Unfortunately, this new way is expensive because it made many old Internet devices obsolete, so many Internet companies simply did not upgrade.
Now, the Internet is at a new crossroads. Not only is there a need for increased address capacity, but there is also a need for more sophisticated ways to deliver information between these addresses that the new address scheme does not address. The result of this confluence of problems could be the development of entirely new, proprietary systems by Internet companies as they try to solve both problems simultaneously.
The result of such proprietary systems will likely be a standards war that looks a lot like the one that recently played out between Blue-Ray and HD-DVD over the high definition DVD market. The mean time will likely mean increased prices for Internet access and increased controls by Internet service providers over how their customers use the Internet.
The silver lining of this entire process is that the Internet as it exists today stands to undergo a radical upgrade in capabilities, whichever standard wins the ultimate fight. The benefit of this upgrade will be an ability for the world to interact in ways no one could have conceived of when the Internet was invented. Everyone stands to benefit from that reality.