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New Internet Protocol Version Slated For Debut

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 13, 2003 – An improved version of the Internet, featuring enhancements that improve system security and data delivery, will be part of DoD's integrated information-communications network, a senior U.S. defense official said here today.

Users will realize improved service when Internet Protocol Version 6 is incorporated across DoD systems, John Stenbit, assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration, remarked to reporters during a Pentagon press conference.

DoD currently uses Version 4 of the Internet, Stenbit explained. That system, he noted, has some flaws.

"There are lots of issues that have come up with Internet Version 4," Stenbit pointed out, noting many commercial "fixes" have been made to address some of those problems.

One Version 4 fix, Stenbit said, concerns the number of Internet addresses that can be accessed. Yet, this issue, he pointed out, isn't of particular import to DoD.

However, DoD is concerned about the lack of information security safeguards that are inherent in Internet Version 4, Stenbit noted.

And the department is aware of the current Internet system's lack of dependability in delivering electronic "packages" of information, which, Stenbit points out, has a negative impact on quality of service.

Today, "if you send a 'packet' on the Internet, nobody is guaranteeing you that it is going to get to the other end," Stenbit observed.

For example, he noted, sometimes Internet provider-generated video or audio conferences may lose sight or sound during transmission. This, he explained, is caused by Version 4 limitations.

Improvements addressing such quality of service issues are part of Internet Version 6, Stenbit explained.

And Version 6 development "has gotten far enough along so that people now deliver hardware and software that are compatible with both standards," Stenbit noted.

Version 6 "is what we're going to be using" as the standard for DoD, Stenbit declared, noting, "We're anticipating moving the department to the use of IP 6 in about 2008."

Consequently, DoD acquisition officials must begin purchasing Version 6- compatible equipment now, Stenbit concluded.

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