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Air Time: The Internet as a Legacy System: Page 2 of 2

The private sector alone is not capable of addressing the Internet's architectural flaws. Government and quasi-governmental organizations must play a bigger role. With the DoD more concerned with weapons systems than data networks, responsibility in the United States goes to the National Science Foundation, which funds the basic research needed to address these monumental challenges.

Recently, the academic research community has been pressuring the NSF to step up to those challenges. Although the NSF's funding for Internet2 has led to some interesting work, that network's status as a "production test bed" has made it, for all practical purposes, a parallel Internet, using the same, limited protocols. Researchers at MIT, Princeton, the University of California and the University of Washington are pressing for a more radical approach that will overcome what Princeton computer scientist Larry Peterson refers to as an ossified and unalterable status quo. They've also challenged researchers to come to grips with what they call the "impact imperative"--in essence, any new architecture must be implementable in the context of today's global Internet.

Although the complexity of this undertaking is immense, meeting the needs of the next generation of Internet users and sustaining the technical innovation that fuels societal progress are clearly at stake.
Dave Molta is Network Computing's senior technology editor. Write to him at [email protected]