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Explaining China's IPv9

James Seng

Recently, the news that China is adopting IPv9 is making rounds on the Internet. While some of them write off as an April Fool's joke (in July?) like RFC 1606, others wonder if there is more than meets the eye. But most of them wonder what this IPv9 is and how does it actually work. And some of the English translated articles are so badly done that it is impossible to get any useful technical information except that 'It is developed and supported by Chinese government!'

Well, let me clear the air: this is not a joke and it is not RFC 1606.

I had an encounter with them back in 2001. The technology is developed by 十进制网 called "数字域名" which translates roughly to "Numerical Domain Name". Originally, they called this All-Digital-Domain-Address (ADDA). Subsequently, they became more ambitious that they believe ADDA could be assigned to every machine on the Internet, like an IP address and hence IPv9 is born.

The 10-digit number mentioned in the news refers to phone numbers. (China uses a 10-digit local phone number, excluding country code and area code). The idea is that you can navigate the web, telnet, ftp, ssh using phone numbers.

The technology is basically a modified DNS server. The modified DNS will 'intercept' domain names which contains all numbers, and then forwards it to their own 'root servers' to be resolved. As it is based on DNS, it can resolve to an IPv4 or IPv6 address, and thus they can claim 'compatibility with IPv4 and IPv6'. The business model is basically getting you to register your phone number with them.

So it isn't really IP as you would think. But despite this, they seem pretty well connected in China and have support from Ministry of Information Industry among others. Lots of press release with a strong claim of support from China government but no actual deployment I am aware of.

By James Seng, Vice President. More blog posts from James Seng can also be read here.

Related topics: DNS, Domain Names, IP Addressing, IPv6

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Re: Explaining China's IPv9 Daniel R. Tobias  –  Jul 07, 2004 10:58 AM PST

Isn't there already a system called ENUM that's intended to map between phone numbers and DNS addresses?  And there's a proposed .TEL TLD to do just the same thing, incompatibly.  People really do like reinventing wheels, don't they?

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