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Rolling out next generation's net

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Brian Carpenter, the new chair of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), says "I think VoIP (Voice-over Internet Protocol, allowing phone calls to be made over the Net) is very important - it challenges all the old cost models of telecoms."

As the new chair of the IETF, his next big challenge is overseeing IPv6, the next generation standard for information transfer and routing across the web.

"The net was growing at a fantastic rate at the end of the 90s. Then there was a bit of a glitch in 2000."

"We are now seeing a very clear phase of consolidation and renewed growth."

The number of broadband subscribers via DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) doubled in a year to 13 million, according to figures released at the end of 2004.

IPv6, the standard that will replace the existing IPv4, will allow for billions more addresses on the net, and it is gradually being worked into network infrastructure across the world.

The one problem with the net that may never disappear completely is security. To Dr Carpenter, the solution comes out of technological and human behaviour.

People have to be educated about "sensible behaviour" he says, such as ignoring e-mails that claim you have won something.

"We have to do work to make sure there are better security internet standards. It is a never-ending battle in a sense."

But, he adds: "Even if security has improved, you still worry a bit. Unfortunately, it is just part of life. We have a duty to do what we can."

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