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Do we need a new Internet architecture for 6G?

The Internet’s original designers never foresaw that the academic and military research network they created would one day bear the burden of carrying all the world’s communications and commerce. There was no one central control point and its designers wanted to make it possible for every network to exchange data with every other network. Little attention was given to mobility and security. Since then, there have been immense efforts to bolt on security and mobility.  The mobile Internet, for which IP was never designed, continues to grow exponentially. It is already dwarfing the “traditional” IP traffic and is set to accelerate super-exponentially with the emergence of 5G and IoT. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of how critical the Internet has become for the functioning of our societies.  At the same time it has also exposed some of its shortcomings[1], in terms of reliability and lack of deterministic service provision, security and scalability, especially when it is used as the communication infrastructure to enable remote working, remote education, remote manufacturing etc. These limitations are also now hampering (rather than accelerating full digitalisation industries and society.

So far the vast effort of  telecom and IT  engineers, and vast investments by industry and governments alike,  have been spent on patching this looming crisis of the Internet spurred by security[2], privacy and  the exponential rise of mobile connectivity, rather than the redesign of  the IP infrastructure, protocols and policies.  In this discussion paper we highlight key challenges for current Internet architecture and protocols. We arguing that the defending the  status quo will be the death of Internet as we know it, but there is an path, currently being pursued by several initiative across the world, towards accelerated evolution and redesign that will lead to an evolved Internet fit for 21st century.


[1] Andrew Lippmann and Hossein Moiin, “Lessons of a Pandemic for a Connected World”, MIT Media Lab, May 4 2020 https://www.media.mit.edu/posts/lesson-of-a-pandemic-for-a-connected-world/

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/15/weekinreview/15markoff.html

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