Recently, China has proposed a new standard for networking technology at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The Chinese multinational technology company, Huawei along with government-owned companies such as China Unicom and China Telecom, and the Country’s Ministry of Industry & Information Technology have collectively proposed the so-called “New IP” (Joseph, 2020). China claims that this technology allows the feasibility of cutting-edge technology such as holograms and autonomous cars (Gross & Murgia, 2020).
The current IP works by breaking down messages into small packets to be delivered to other computers where messages are noted by the IP address of the destination computer. This procedure is known as the “Transmission Control Protocol” or TCP (Joseph, 2020). However, the new IP system allows devices that are in the same network to communicate directly without interfering with the internet. So, the traditional IP system is often described as “vastly insufficient”, “unstable” and has “lots of security, reliability and configuration problems” (Gross & Murgia, 2020). As such, Huawei argues that the development of the new IP would tackle all the challenges the current IP system has, thus, allowing the implementation of future technology by the year 2030.
In the PowerPoint presentation by Huawei obtained by Financial Times, it packages the “new IP” proposal with a “peek” into a utopian vision of future technology. First, exploring the aspect of very large volume & tiny instant communications (VLV & TIC) allowing the bridge between digital sense and holographic type communications, cloud driving, self-driving and many other applications. Secondly, the expansion of “ManyNets” such as satellite networks and internet-scale private networks that can enable broadband connectivity for 4 billion people who are yet to be connected. Additionally, “beyond best effort” and “high-precision communications” (BBE & HPC) would be used to ensure high precision connectivity and user-network interface. Ultimately, all of this captures the potential insight into the functionalities of the internet in 2030 and beyond.
Although the new IP is able to revolutionise the way humans interact with computers and the world, many countries are not so optimistic. Western countries such as the UK, Sweden and the US who are more in favour of liberty dissent towards the proposal. However, countries like Russia and possibly Saudi Arabia who are more prone towards a “top-down” and a more government regulated system, are in support. Huawei also aims to further market the New IP in India at an ITU telecommunication conference. With the two opposing views, there is still an overarching concern emerging about the “top-down design” and the “shut up command” which alludes to censorship and power shifting away from individuals.
Furthermore, many experts argue that the New IP would promote less liberty in the internet as it is predicted to have control of every device connected to the network where the “IP” would centralize control over the network into the hands of telecoms operators, all of which are either state-run or state-controlled in China. Therefore, internet infrastructure would become “an arm of the Chinese state” (Chen, 2020).
Currently, as the current Covid-19 crisis marks a strong rise in human relations digitalisation (Villar M.) and that an estimated 60-70% of the new value created in the economy in the current decade will be based on digitally-enabled platforms (World Economic Forum), Huawei’s restructuration of the internet proposal must be followed with great attention as it has the potential of completely reshaping the structures of growth in the crucial sector of the digital economy.
Though the proposal tackles the challenges posed by an increasingly fragmented Internet structure by allowing easier interconnection, it also departs from the “multi-stakeholder” principle that underlines the governance of the internet so far. This principle has enabled the initial development of the platform that was responsible for determining the most effective form of governance in each specific context, balancing between national regulation and private governance (Denardis, L.). On the other hand, the new internet model would respond to a cyber sovereignty principle of governance, which recognises the extension of State Sovereignty on the cyber-space (Rosenbach E. & Shu Min C.).
In light of this current Covid-19 crisis, the “new internet” has not been the center of attention. But as discussed, it is undoubtedly one of the most “ground-breaking” ideologies that has the potential to change how the world operates forever.
Chen, C. (2020). China’s “New IP” proposal to replace TCP/IP has a built in “shut up command” for censorship. Retrieved from https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/blog/chinas-new-ip-proposal-to-replace-tcp-ip-has-a-built-in-shut-up-command-for-censorship/
Denardis, L. (2014). The Global War for Internet Governance. Yale University Press. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vkz4n. Chapter 10 p.227
Gross A. & Murgia M. (2020) China and Huawei propose reinvention of the internet. Retrieved from : https://www.ft.com/content/c78be2cf-a1a1-40b1-8ab7-904d7095e0f2
Joseph, M. (2020). China & Huawei proposes reinvention of the internet. Retrieved from https://www.beltandroad.news/2020/03/29/china-huawei-propose-reinvention-of-the-internet/
Rosenbach E. & Shu Min C. (2019) Governing Cyberspace : State- Control vs. The Multistakeholder model, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School. Retrieved from https://www.belfercenter.org/publication/governing-cyberspace-state-control-vs-multistakeholder-model
Villar M. (2020) UN chief : Post-coronavirus world will be even more digital : Retrieved from : https://www.euractiv.com/section/coronavirus/news/un-chief-post-coronavirus-world-will-be-even-more-digital/
World Economic Forum : Shaping the future of digital economy and new value creation. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/platforms/shaping-the-future-of-digital-economy-and-new-value-creation:
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Justin is a fourth-year Bachelor of Commerce student majoring in Economics and Finance. He is interested in global economic trends, financial markets and astronomy.
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