Smart Everything Is Coming, but Will There Be Enough Addresses?

Carl Weinschenk

One of the shining possibilities of IP networks for the service providers that formerly focused solely on telecommunications services is that they can broaden their horizons - significantly.

GigaOm's Katie Fehrenbacher reports that AT&T is gearing up to launch a home management business that will be part of the carrier's Digital Life Project. The service, which will launch in Atlanta, is set to include "home security, monitoring, telehealth, energy efficient and smart grid tools," the piece says.

Verizon is further ahead. The company launched a commercial service, which is described by The Atlanta Journal Constitution. The offering seems similar:

AT&T Mobility is creating an Atlanta-based division for wireless devices that would add "hundreds" of jobs and help consumers manage their home security, health care and energy use from far away, the AJC learned Wednesday.

There are three things to pay attention to in these moves. One is to be careful where smartmeters are put. On a more substantive note, the moves by the two big carriers validate the idea that there is tremendous potential in expansion beyond traditional telecommunications services. Just as apps enable people to use their smartphones to do things that couldn't be imagined just a few years ago, the open nature of modern networks and the intense creativity of providers will make the home a hotbed of telecommunications activity.

The related issue is that there will be a tremendous need for Internet addresses. The recognition of this is evident in the increasing uptake of IPv6 and machine-machine (M2M) communications.

The move to IPv6 is seen as increasingly important as the number of IPv4 addresses dwindle. Indeed, the last fresh batch of the IPv4 addresses were given out in February. What that actually means is a bit difficult to pin down. The bottom line, though, is clear: IPv6 should be adopted sooner rather than later.

The news from an Infoblox survey is mixed. BetaNews reports that the firm did a survey and found that the bigger domain registrar, Go Daddy, is pulling its weight - but, apparently, other companies aren't:

Still, the massive jolt provided by Go Daddy only brings total support for IPv6 by .com, .net, and .org subdomains up to 25.4 percent. If we were to subtract Go Daddy's contribution, there was still growth, but the total support would only be around 3 percent.

The bottom line is that the telecommunications network is in the process of being harnessed for a vast universe of services for which it was not designed. Handling this complexity will require a tremendous upgrade to the infrastructure, starting with addresses. Though the industry has been talking about IPv6 for a decade, it still is not certain whether the commitment will be made.

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