[e2e] Time for a new Internet Protocol

David P. Reed dpreed at reed.com
Fri May 18 07:24:05 PDT 2007

Dirk - I have been thinking about this.

The point of the Internet was to achieve a network of networks, which 
seemed pleasantly obvious to anyone who had studied digital systems at 
the time since bits were bits and messages were messages.   You are 
right that it wasn't to "beat Ma Bell" - but it also was the case that 
Ma Bell was not interested in solving the many problems. ATT was asked, 
but it could not be interested in serving an unproven need, one that was 
seen only by a few crazy people like Licklider, Englebart, Taylor, etc. 
as important - I really recommend reading The Computer as a 
Communications Device to put yourself in those times.   I remember my 
Professor Joel Moses once asking me why we were wasting time on the 
Internet, when all you needed to access any remote computer was a dialup 
modem, and once AT&T delivered faster connections to homes (I think the 
expectation was to use microwaves at the time) everyone would be able to 
call up any time sharing system they wanted.

LANs of small computers were viewed as insanely wasteful ways to 
engineer systems - what you wanted was a big "computer utility".   
Grosch's Law was the law of the land - the bigger the computer, the more 
efficient the system.

Today IMHO, I see that pattern playing out again.   The idea that the 
"backbone is the Internet" is historically wrong - the IP Internet is 
the whole damn thing that consists mostly of LANs and a little backbone 

It's really nice that some of the carriers get the value of offering 
first class Internet transport (IP layer) services, and additional 
services that enhance that transport.

But most carriers and service providers are indeed viewing that as the 
place where Internet edge-based innovation should *stop* or slow.   In 
particular, they are slow to deploy support for anything new at the 
edges, for a very good reason: it might disrupt their profitability.   A 
solipsistic or narcissistic view by the carriers that they know best 
what is good for the IP users has settled in.   It's kind of like the 
White Man's Burden - all those poor people in undeveloped user land need 
help figuring out what they want, so carriers should impose enlightened 
governors on them in the form of AUPs, NAT boxes, etc.   And of course 
we won't mention that by keeping the colonials under our enlightened 
governance, they won't disrupt carrier business plans to maintain 
dominance by, for example, incorporating new technologies and services 
into their communications pallette.

Beyond being slow, they have a chorus of pundits who help redefine the 
network service in terms of *speed* rather than interoperation and 
adaptability to innovation.   It's Joel Moses' comment to me all over 
again: just wait till the providers give us *fast enough* connections.   
That's all we want, right?   To get to servers faster?   How do we know 
that is all we want?

I want mobility in the truest sense.   Not mobile phone calls.   I move 
through the world, and I'm the same person whereever I am - and I'm sick 
and tired of having the 10 radios I carry on my person have to pretend 
they are 300 baud acoustic coupled modems that take a minute to "log in" 
on whatever network I might be able to find.   I hate that those radios 
touch other radios within meters, within kilometers, etc. but they 
cannot talk - merely because there is no common "network of networks" 
among them.

There is *no* carrier who will do this whole job - at best they can 
help.   Yet, like Licklider, I see that there is a job to do.   And I 
also see that there is a possibility to do the job *despite* this 
unwillingness, and without the carriers - even fighting the modern 
equivalent of the Bellheads who claimed that connecting modems to phone 
lines might crash the network (with erudite arguments about erlangs in 
phone crossbars) - those being the routerheads who argue (eruditely) 
that bad packets must be blocked by deep packet inspection and AUPs, 
lest the whole backbone crash.

I harbor no ill will towards carriers.   Some people hated Ma Bell, but 
I recommended fellow students to go work for them at Bell Labs.   This 
is not a call for tearing down the walls.  If carriers want to join this 
effort, *wonderful*.  But I doubt they will.   And I know many carrier 
executives who think it is their *duty* to view this as something to 
fight against, just as I know many carrier executives who find it of 
great interest.

dirk.trossen at bt.com wrote:
> David,
> I wonder if such almost revolutionary tone is both helpful and effective
> in reaching the goal (or anything for that matter) you're promoting. 
> Not only do I believe (more hope) that the intention back then, when
> constructing IP, TCP, UDP, ..., was not 'to beat Mother Bell's control
> ambitions' but to truly enable end user innovation (driven by the true
> belief that this would benefit everybody), I would also argue that times
> do have changed since then. Change of fundamentals in the Internet is
> today more of an educational process than ever. It might be driven by
> technology, certainly not only though, but it certainly includes more
> than ever proper education beyond the pure technology community and the
> consideration for the concerns of everybody involved. It isn't a
> technology exercise anymore within a governmentally funded research
> community that, over the course of some twenty years, will then turn
> into a fundamental piece of societial life. It IS part of the societal
> life. So advocating changes needs to take into account the different
> concerns, also the ones of the 'routerheads' and the 'control freaks',
> if you will, in order to be successful. 
> So it is not the goal that I'm questioning (you know how much I
> subscribe to end user driven innovation), it is your, to me, ineffective
> and confrontational method that I fear will turn out to be wasteful
> rather than fruitful. What the technology community CAN provide is the
> ammunition for this educational process, the proof that end user
> innovation is indeed enabled, for the good of everybody involved (and
> point our alternatives for the ones that seemingly will need to change).
> BTW, as you know I recently have joined a company you might characterize
> as being on the 'controlling end' of the spectrum, coming from an end
> user type of company. But believe me that I would have not joined if I
> didn't believe such education is possible. It isn't all black and white
> (us - whoever that is - against them).
> Dirk
> Dirk Trossen
> Chief Researcher
> BT Group Chief Technology Office
> pp 69, Sirius House
> Adastral Park, Martlesham
> Ipswich, Suffolk
> IP5 3RE
> UK
> e-mail: dirk.trossen at bt.com 
> phone: +44(0) 7918711695 
> __________________________________________
> British Telecommunications plc
> Registered office: 81 Newgate Street London EC1A 7AJ
> Registered in England no. 1800000 This electronic message contains
> information from British Telecommunications plc which may be privileged
> and confidential. The information is intended to be for the use of the
> individual(s) or entity named above. If you are not the intended
> recipient, be aware that any disclosure, copying, distribution or use of
> the contents of this information is prohibited. If you have received
> this electronic message in error, please notify us by telephone or email
> (to the number or address above) immediately. Activity and use of the
> British Telecommunications plc email system is monitored to secure its
> effective operation and for other lawful business purposes.
> Communications using this system will also be monitored and may be
> recorded to secure effective operation and for other lawful business
> purposes.
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: end2end-interest-bounces at postel.org 
>> [mailto:end2end-interest-bounces at postel.org] On Behalf Of 
>> David P. Reed
>> Sent: Tuesday, May 15, 2007 3:57 PM
>> To: end2end-interest list
>> Subject: [e2e] Time for a new Internet Protocol
>> 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 networks.
>> 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.

More information about the end2end-interest mailing list