[e2e] Time for a new Internet Protocol

David P. Reed dpreed at reed.com
Tue May 15 07:57:24 PDT 2007

A motivation for TCP and then IP, TCP/IP, UDP/IP, RTP/IP, etc. was that 
network vendors had too much control over what could happen inside their 

Thus, IP was the first "overlay network" designed from scratch to bring 
heterogeneous networks into a common, world-wide "network of networks" 
(term invented by Licklider and Taylor in their prescient paper, The 
Computer as a Communications Device).  By creating universal 
connectivity, with such properties as allowing multitudinous connections 
simultaneously between a node and its peers, an extensible user-layer 
naming system called DNS, and an ability to invent new end-to-end 
protocols, gradually a new ecology of computer mediated communications 
evolved, including the WWW (dependent on the ability to make 100 "calls" 
within a few milliseconds to a variety of hosts), email (dependent on 
the ability to deploy end-system server applications without having to 
ask the "operator" for permission for a special 800 number that 
facilitates public addressability).

Through a series of tragic events (including the dominance of 
routerheads* in the network community) the Internet is gradually being 
taken back into the control of providers who view their goal as limiting 
what end users can do, based on the theory that any application not 
invented by the pipe and switch owners is a waste of resources.  They 
argue that "optimality" of the network is required, and that any new 
application implemented at the edges threatens the security and 
performance they pretend to provide to users.

Therefore, it is time to do what is possible: construct a new overlay 
network that exploits the IP network just as the IP network exploited 
its predecessors the ARPANET and ATT's longhaul dedicated links and new 
technologies such as LANs.

I call for others to join me in constructing the next Internet, not as 
an extension of the current Internet, because that Internet is corrupted 
by people who do not value innovation, connectivity, and the ability to 
absorb new ideas from the user community.

The current IP layer Internet can then be left to be "optimized" by 
those who think that 100G connections should drive the end user 
functionality.  We can exploit the Internet of today as an "autonomous 
system" just as we built a layer on top of Ethernet and a layer on top 
of the ARPANET to interconnect those.

To save argument, I am not arguing that the IP layer could not evolve.   
I am arguing that the current research community and industry community 
that support the IP layer *will not* allow it to evolve.

But that need not matter.   If necessary, we can do this inefficiently, 
creating a new class of routers that sit at the edge of the IP network 
and sit in end user sites.   We can encrypt the traffic, so that the IP 
monopoly (analogous to the ATT monopoly) cannot tell what our layer is 
doing, and we can use protocols that are more aggressively defensive 
since the IP layer has indeed gotten very aggressive in blocking traffic 
and attempting to prevent user-to-user connectivity.

Aggressive defense is costly - you need to send more packets when the 
layer below you is trying to block your packets.   But DARPA would be a 
useful funder, because the technology we develop will support DARPA's 
efforts to develop networking technologies that work in a net-centric 
world, where US forces partner with temporary partners who may provide 
connectivity today, but should not be trusted too much.

One model is TOR, another is Joost.   Both of these services overlay 
rich functions on top of the Internet, while integrating servers and 
clients into a full Internet on top of today's Internets.

* routerheads are the modern equivalent of the old "bellheads".   The 
problem with bellheads was that they believed that the right way to 
build a communications system was to put all functions into the network 
layer, and have that layer controlled by a single monopoly, in order to 
"optimize" the system.  Such an approach reminds one of the argument for 
the corporate state a la Mussolini: the trains run on time.   Today's 
routerheads believe that the Internet is created by the fibers and 
pipes, rather than being an end-to-end set of agreements that can layer 
on top of any underlying mechanism.   Typically they work for backbone 
ISPs or Router manufacturers as engineers, or in academic circles they 
focus on running hotrod competitions for the fastest file transfer 
between two points on the earth (carefully lining up fiber and switches 
between specially tuned endpoints), or worse, running NS2 simulations 
that demonstrate that it is possible to stand on one's head while 
singing the National Anthem to get another publication in some 
Springer-Verlag journal.

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