Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) have warned that routers and network management software should be upgraded ahead of the increased distribution of four-byte (also known as 32-bit) Autonomous System (AS) numbers.
Geoff Huston, Chief Scientist at Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC - Asia and the Pacific region RIR), expressed severe concerns over failure to prepare for four-byte AS numbers: "AS numbers are often used to identify external relationships, set routing attributes, and manage traffic. Learning from our current experiences with IPv6 preparation issues, Internet engineers designed four-byte AS numbers to be backward compatible with much of the installed network infrastructure. But new entrants and networks that are expanding or merging will need new AS numbers and as of 1 January 2009 these will be, by default, four-byte AS numbers. If router software and support systems in critical parts of the Internet's infrastructure aren't upgraded by January, we'll encounter some significant network routing problems. We're extremely concerned that a lot of routers and network management software out there cannot and will not be able to recognize four-byte AS numbers".
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