China has made a major step forward in Internet technology, which could offer
faster, more secure access and ease worries over network capacity, industry
insiders said this weekend.
An expert panel composed of top scientists and researchers, entrusted by the
National Development and Research Commission (NDRC), on Saturday gave an
acceptance certificate to an academic network called CERNET2 (w), which connects
25 universities in 20 cities across the country.
CERNET2 is at the forefront of the development of the "China next generation
Internet" (CNGI), the world's largest single Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6)
IPv6 exponentially increases the number of possible Internet protocol (IP)
addresses available for connecting PCs and other devices to the Internet.
Under the current IPv4 system controlled by the United States, there are
mounting fears that the Internet address pool could run dry, especially in Asia,
as more and more people connect to the Internet.
The new technologies that will support the IPv6 system will also offer
consumers faster and more secure access, the experts said.
Wu Hequan, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and
vice-director of the expert panel, said the certification shows China is ahead
of the game in building the next generation of the Internet.
"We have made some major breakthroughs in core technologies in CERNET2. The
CNGI is now a world-leading Internet network," Wu said in an interview with
Japan and South Korea are researching IPv6, and the US Department of Defense
is also working on a similar network, though details are not known.
In August 2003, the State Council approved a plan submitted by eight
ministries to construct the CNGI.
China has high expectations for the CNGI, which has become a centrepiece of
the country's plans to cut reliance on foreign companies for core technologies.
The increasing momentum behind the CNGI will help domestic equipment
manufacturers become more competitive, according to Wu.
The market for IPv4-based Internet network equipment, such as core routers,
is dominated by foreign firms such as Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks.
CERNET2, as part of the CNGI, became operational in December 2004. Five
Chinese telecoms operators, including China Telecom and China Mobile, are
building national IPv6 networks.
Industry insiders said major operators such as China Mobile are expected to
launch their IPv6 trial networks before the end of the year.
Domestic companies were selected to provide 80 per cent of the routers used
in the CERNET2.