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Media (R)evolutions: The internet gets a new postal system

Roxanne Bauer's picture

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

Back in the 1970s and 80s, an Internet standard communications protocol, IPv4 or Internet Protocol Version 4, was conceived to interconnect research universities and government facilities in the United States. IPv4 assigns each device connected to the Internet with its own unique identification number, known as an IP address, so that devices can find and communicate with one another. At the time, the quite large number of IP addresses that IPv4 provided for— 4.3 billion— seemed like an almost limitless number that would never run out.

Flash forward to today in which the world population surpasses 7 billion people and the Internet of Things, wearables, and other advances in technology— which all require that each device has its own IP address— and the pool of IP addresses has been exhausted.  Devices now sometimes share IP addresses, resulting in delays and difficulties in routing Internet traffic and limitng the growth of the Internet— particularly in emerging markets. Mobile technologies, which are particularly important to developing countries are held back because network providers cannot assign unique addresses to every mobile device. 

This is where IPv6 comes in.  Not only does it substantially increase the number of addresses, but it also enables more efficient routing, more efficient use of modern hardware, and the ability to support modern networking concepts like mobility.  In July 2015, the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), the regional organization in charge of assigning IP addresses in North America, began wait-listing applicants because it has exhausted its supply of IP addresses under IPv4.  The Asia-Pacific, Europe, and Latin America regions ran out before that.

From IPv4 to IPv6

In Multistakeholderism We Trust: On the Limits of the Multistakeholder Debate

CGCS's picture

Has ‘multistakeholderism… become a mantra, void of its progressive potential and outcomes’? Stefania Milan and Arne Hintz analyze internet governance’s hyper-focus on multistakeholderism and how civil society should adapt a clear IG agenda.

“All I’m saying is, if #multistakeholder were a drinking game, I’d be in the hospital with alcohol poisoning right about now,” tweeted civil society delegate @pondswimmer during the opening ceremony of the recent Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Istanbul, where references to the multistakeholder principle were as omnipresent (and, seemingly, mandatory) as thanking the local organizers. Since the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in 2003 and 2005, the idea of bringing together governments, the business sector, and civil society for debate and policy development has been celebrated and promoted. Probably nowhere has multistakeholder governance been implemented as thoroughly as in internet governance, where civil society actors and experts occupy key positions in the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and where all stakeholders discuss relevant policy issues at the IGF on (supposedly) equal footing. It is now unimaginable to discuss the governance of the internet without some form of multistakeholder participation. References to multistakeholder processes have been pervasive in speeches and documents, from the official 2003 WSIS press release titled “Summit Breaks New Ground with Multi-Stakeholder Approach” which praised the method rather than highlighting the substantial issues of the summit, to the NETmundial outcome document calling for “democratic, multistakeholder processes, ensuring the meaningful and accountable participation of all stakeholders, including governments, the private sector, civil society, the technical community, the academic community and users.”