Google wants to be your Internet

Jim Shankland nanog at
Mon Jan 22 18:58:33 UTC 2007

In response to my saying:

> I'd love to hear the business case for why my home electrical meter
> needs to be directly IP-addressable from an Internet cafe in Lagos.

"Jay R. Ashworth" <jra at> responds, concisely:

> It doesn't, and it shouldn't.  That does *not* mean it should not have
> a globally unique ( != globally routable) IP address.

and Jeroen Massar <jeroen at> presents several hypothetical

Note that the original goal was for electrical companies to monitor
electrical meters.  Jeroen brings up backyard mini-nuke plants, seeing
how much the power plug in the garden is being used, etc.  These may
all be desirable goals, but they represent considerable mission creep
from the originally stated goal.

None of Jeroen's applications requires end-to-end, packet-level access
to the individual devices in Jeroen's future (I assume) home.  You can
certainly argue that packet-level connectivity is better, easier to
engineer, scales better, etc., etc.; but it is not *required*.
In fact, there are sound engineering arguments against packet-level
access:  since we've dragged in the backyard nuke plant, consider what
happens when everybody has a backyard mini-nuke, with control software
written by Linksys, and it turns out that sending it a certain kind
of malformed packet can cause it to melt down ....

No matter.  Reasonable people can disagree on the question of whether
every networkable device benefits from being globally, uniquely
addressable.  The burden on the proponents is higher than that:  there
are *costs* associated with such an architecture, and the proponents
of globally unique addressing need to show not only that it has benefits,
but that the benefits exceed the costs.  Coming full circle, the original
assertion was that IPv6 was required in order for electric companies
to use IP to monitor US electric meters.  That assertion is false, and
no amount of hand-waving about backyard nuke plants will make it true.

The history of IPv6 has been that it keeps receding into the future
as people's use of IPv4 adapts enough to make the current benefit of
switching to IPv6 smaller than the cost to do so.  Perhaps after a
decade or so, we're nearing the end of that road.  Or perhaps, as
F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote about IPv6, it is:

	the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before
	us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter - tomorrow
	we will run faster, stretch out our arms further....
	And one fine morning -

We'll see.

Jim Shankland

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