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New Internets


Rich Tehrani

While we focus here in the U.S. on having multiple Internets of varying quality, beyond our shores the trend seems to be having different Internets.

Many countries are looking for alternatives to being forced to use technology that is controlled in some way by the U.S. government. A while back, Europeans decided to launch a multi-billion dollar GPS competitor into orbit called Galileo.

Now, other countries are looking to compete with America's ever-growing Internet dominance. For example, China, the Arab League, and a Dutch company have all started to build their own mini-Internets that are not necessarily available to those on the real, or should I say "first," Internet.

These newer Internets will differ from the one we use today because they will use suffixes different from the 264 that are approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). You know these suffixes as .com, .org, .jp, etc. The central root basis for the Internet is what allows it to work so well. The single root, which is replicated for security and redundancy, is necessary so that anyone can get to any Web site easily. When you type in, the central root communicates rapidly with administrator of your domain and returns an IP address that, in turn, connects you the correct site.

Recently, there was controversy over the addition of a .xxx domain name when the U.S. government twisted the arm of ICANN to squash the new name. Other countries cited this example of how the U.S. controls the Internet and have subsequently pressed for ICANN to be under the UN's control. As the Internet becomes a bigger part of every country's daily lives and economy, the fear of having U.S. control over such an important network is growing.

In response, the U.S. says that countries like China, Libya, Syria, and Cuba, who complain about U.S.-based Internet control, don't have democracies and, as such, taking control of the Internet for them means they will use their power for censorship.

Alternatives to ICANN are also popping up in Europe, where the Open Root Server Network (ORSN) mirrors ICANN and is there almost as a safeguard in case ICANN starts to behave badly. In other words, this root can be used as leverage to ensure ICANN operates in a fair and equitable manner.

Another example is UnifiedRoot in Amsterdam, which allows customers to purchase a domain name with any suffix they choose for $1,000 and a recurring annual fee of $250. ICANN is responding to these threats by becoming more accommodating to foreign languages.

I wonder If this is the beginning of a slew of new Internets being built, will we be able to easily use VoIP across these networks? In other words, we not only have to have the same VoIP provider, but now we will also need to be on the same Internet?

This whole situation has the ability to confuse users and any confusion is bad. Furthermore, anything that makes it more difficult to communicate is not beneficial for the global population. For more on this topic, visit

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