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Information-centric networking could fix these internet problems

Alan Carlton | June 29, 2016
The internet of the future will have to support pervasive mobile connectivity and multicast video technology while keeping latency down. ICN makes those possible.

Information-centric networking could fix these Internet problems

Information-centric networking (ICN) ticks many of the requirements boxes for 5G, driven by the proliferation of software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV). But what are those issues that ICN improves over the current internet? And how does it do it?

Today's internet has seen significant changes. With forecasts for 2020 predicting 50 billion IoT devices, the scale of connectivity is ever increasing with nearly every computing device today providing some form of connectivity option.

This will have a tremendous impact on the size of IP routing tables. This is not a problem in your typical home router on the edge of the internet. But as you move up to the core (into the so called Default Free Zone), the nodes in this part of the network literally need to store the whole internet in their routing tables. This is driving up memory costs in each IP router, as well as increasing processing complexity and power consumption.

Even in SDN-enabled environments, this trend can be observed through increasing flow matching tables (growing similarly as the IP routing tables in the traditional internet), leading to an arms' race between vendors for ever larger and costly table memory.

In addition to pervasive connectivity, most devices have become predominantly mobile. The distributed nature of IP routing tables' calls for so-called anchor-based mobility management solutions that preserve the view of a stationary main contact while the users' devices roams about. This leads to inefficiencies in routing packets, caused by the triangular nature of any packet exchange with a mobile device.

User requirements in a 5G world

User requirements have also changed since the early days of the internet and will continue to change in 5G, particularly with respect to latency, with new applications predicted to dominate 5G-from augmented reality to autonomous driving to industrial control applications. Latency is kept low today through a myriad of redirections, which directs our initial request to alternative replicas.

Key to these redirections are skilful manipulations of the Domain Name System (DNS), which are prone to misconfigurations and long convergence times for changes in those redirections. Ever pervasive mobility and the desire to limit latency to a few hops will only increase the strain on the DNS.

Such redirections are particularly difficult when trying to accommodate policy-based decisionsSuch policies are highly dependent on aspects such as the users, a country's legislative framework, and even more dynamic conditions, such as desired network load.

While solutions exist for policy-based routing between networks, application-specific policies, such as legal interception, need expensive deep packet inspection (DPI) that manipulates the flow of traffic on the fly, increasing the overall complexity of the network and therefore ultimately its costs.


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