The man credited as the "father of the Internet" was in London last week warning that policy, rather than technical problems, threatens the future of the Web. He also said the Web risks running out of address space within six years.
Vinton Cerf, senior vice-president for Internet architecture and technology at MCI WorldCom, told an audience at University College London that with 4.2 billion users and an efficiency level of 60%, the Internet would run out of space by 2006.
"There needs to be a move from Internet Protocol Version 4 to Version 6, which provides 128bits of addressing space," said Cerf
Cerf, who together with Robert Kahn is credited with founding the Internet, went on to describe the emerging devices that are helping to eat up the address space, including sewing machines and cars.
"The Internet-enabled refrigerator, if fitted with a barcode will be able to tell what is in the fridge and then surf the Net for recipes," said Cerf. "E-mails could be sent from the refrigerator."
Cerf warned, "There are no guaranteed business models for operation on the Internet. It is at an experimental stage." He added that future challenges were likely to be of a policy rather than technical nature.
"Technical problems often have objective measures to determine whether there is a reasonable solution. Policy issues are much harder, less clear and worse because the Internet is global," said Cerf.
"So the policy problems that have to be resolved must work in all the countries that the Internet goes out to. There are huge challenges ahead, which is why it is important for Internet Society members and others to make sure the legislators understand enough to act."
This was first published in November 2000