There are big changes afoot on the Internet.
That Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is testing domain names using 11 non-Roman alphabets, including Arabic, Russian, Hindi, Yiddish, Japanese and Chinese (simplified and traditional).
For the average Internet user, it doesn't matter one wit, according to this Phsyorg.com article. But for the five billion people not yet online -- and, I would think, for global corporations -- it will be huge.
Currently, you can use non-Roman letters and symbols in a url, just not after the dot --- a decision made by ICANN in an effort to ensure the Internet wasn't destablized. But it's also lead to tons of criticism from the rest of the world, which felt a bit shafted over the decision, to say the least.
The new approach is called Internationalized Domain Names (IDN).
That's not the only step being taken to prepare the Internet for truly global growth. Recently, the Internet Engineering Task Force announced it's working on a new routing architecture to support the growth of the BGP routing tables.
If that sounds irrelevant to your day-to-day job, think again.
The BPG routing table, of course, is the master list of network destinations. For our non-technology readers, it's stored on backbone routers and basically figures out the best path for sending information from one network to another.
You can see, then, how too many routes would quickly become a problem. Fortunately, the Internet's backbone routers won't crash just because the tables are taxed.
But according to this Networkworld article, growth in the routing table could drive up the costs of connecting to the Internet. Currently, the BPG routing table is growing exponentially -- last year, it was at 195,000, but recently, its count was around around 240,000 routes.
One expert quoted in the article warns that older routers could begin failing at 244,000 entries.
The dotcom bust slowed growth somewhat, but one of the major causes of routing table growth remains multihoming on Web sites.
Experts say the exponential growth will shorten the life cycle of routers while increasing their footprint, cost and power requirements. Quoth Tony Li, co-chair of the IRTF's Routing Research Group:
What CIOs really care about is the cost of their Internet connections, and if the cost of the service providers goes up because the routing table becomes unwieldy, that will lead to incremental costs for everybody. We're interested in avoiding that scenario.
As do we, Li!
A redesigned routing number architecture would also make decrease your costs for renumbering whenever you change providers.