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Working Around IP Changes

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 07:04AM

The Internet is getting old and is being used to enable things it was not originally designed for. For example, mobile devices like smartphones which can connect via Wi-Fi and a cellular data connection were not envisioned at the time and suffer because of it. When the device switches from one data connection to the other there is an unavoidable blip as it changes IP addresses. Researchers at Princeton University however have developed a new layer for the Internet that should alleviate this and other issues to do with changing IP addresses.

The current design of the Internet relies on IP address to connect any two devices, which are like phone numbers. If you are in the middle of a call though and you have to switch phones (say your cell phone's battery is dying, so you grab a landline) you have to hang up and dial again for the conversation to continue. This is the issue with switching from Wi-Fi to cellular data, but what the researchers have created, called Serval, uses the new Service Access Layer element to identify the service in use without an IP address. Continuing the phone call analogy, what Serval does is connects two people, instead of two phone numbers, so switching from one phone to another does not require re-dialing.

Looking at the backend of the Internet, Serval also allows the connection to a server to be migrated seamlessly, which is valuable as some services use multiple servers with different addresses. Currently the researchers are doing proof-of-service testing but once it is proven it can be deployed to the Internet with minor interference, if any.

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