Politicians debate the internet of things

A senior politician has compared machine to machine communications (M2M) to the name of a Eurovision song contest band.

Edward Vaizey, whose business card has to accommodate “Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Culture, Communications and Creative Industries), Business, Innovation and Skills” as a job title, said he had only found out yesterday that cars have IP addresses. He said M2M is the “internet of things” and is the “new new thing” of the internet.

“It is something that people are now starting to talk about,” he said. “The possibilities of the internet of things are almost limitless and they will transform how we live our lives.”

Vaizey, speaking on IPV6 world day, explained IPv6 to a gaggle of enraptured politicos.  “At the moment, we use internet protocol version 4, or IPV4, and we are about to run out of IPV4 addresses. I do not want anyone to panic about that for a moment, but this autumn the wholesale sale of internet addresses in Europe will come to an end and in the next two years we will experience a shortage. Consequently we need to move to IPV6, which is a longer string of digits.”

He said that moving from IPV4 to IPV6 is like moving from a golf ball to the sun. “I learned today something that is pretty obvious once you are told it, namely that every new car that is sold has its own internet address, to allow it to communicate with computers. There will also be e-health, smart cities and many other variations of things.”

Ericsson thinks we will need 50 billion IP addresses by 2010 to cope with the internet of things. Businesses will need to get on top of the change to IPV6 in the next few years.

“In fact, the slogan that I came up with this morning, which I thought was rather neat, was, “Don’t panic, but do start to prepare”.”

The internet of things needs more spectrum. “In March, just after the Budget, we published our detailed plans to release 500 MHz of public sector spectrum below 5 GHz by 2020. That will be a complex task, bringing together a number of Government Departments. We must also ensure that the spectrum that we make available is internationally compatible and that we make it available with the minimum of disruption to the public sector, be it transport, security or defence.”

He said: “I am confident that Ofcom’s approach to innovation and to spectrum management will continue to take account of its duties and will be both proportional and appropriate. It is important to recognise that machine-to-machine…”— Sitting adjourned without Question put (Standing Order No. 10(11)).