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On P2P connectivity, IPv4 NAT and the path forward

Here are my thoughts on P2P connectivity, the suitability of NAT on IPv4 connections for this and the path forward.

As always I am not an expert on anything, and when I write these things I write out my thoughts in the hope someone smarter or just more knowledgeable will embiggen my understanding to a cromulent level. 

P2P connectivity

It's not all about payments, the ability to establish and use a P2P connection between two parties in a reliable way, is a fundamental building block that will transform. But it just doesn't work well enough for two particular reasons.

  • Not every location supports incoming connections.
  • It's not private or secure.

If you can't connect to someone, then you are limited in the way you can interact with them. You need to engage in more complicated ways to interact with them, which are likely to impose their own limitations. The simplest work around for this is to engage a relaying service which both parties can make an outgoing connection to.

IPv4 NAT

In order for IPv4 NAT to work for two parties to connect, each party has to know the IP address of the other party. Is that desirable? From a security perspective it seems problematic, and also from a privacy perspective. The relaying service however prevents having to share your IP address with another party, and it also provides 24/7 availability through representative services - something the IPv4 connection can't always do in every situation.

I would go further and say that this is the reason that Craig focuses on IPv6 is because it solves the privacy side of this, to some degree the security, although not availability.

Maybe there is something I am not seeing that makes IPv4 NAT worthwhile.

IPv6

IPv6 is very appealing, read Craig's article for more details, and find other articles he has written on the subject. But it doesn't work yet for several reasons.

  • Your home internet connection may not offer IPv6, or may support for CGA or other essential technologies.
  • Roaming internet connections may not offer IPv6, or may support for CGA or other essential technologies.
  • Your device or operating system may not allow applications any access to IPv6 and CGA without the application having administrator level access, which is a deal breaker. 

IPv6 just isn't ready.

The path forward

If I had another 24 hours in the day, I would educate myself about IPv6. I would learn what support is available. What platforms it is accessible on and how. The future developments on different platforms, in networking technology and what of it can be access and used when. Then I would start offering it to the people that can use it and sh

But in the shorter term, I suspect that relaying services are the only practical path forward. And it makes a lot of sense for a Paymail host to offer it as a value-added service, to the hosting of your identity. As there are identified profiles for when IPv6 direct connections can be used, it will likely be attempted first and relaying services used as a fallback.

Then again, I am not an expert. What do you think?

-- rt12

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"But in the shorter term, I suspect that relaying services are the only practical path forward. And it makes a lot of sense for a Paymail host to offer it as a value-added service, to the hosting of your identity." ====> Yeah I think it's much more productive to try to solve a solvable problem than trying to solve something that's not practical today. I also read some nchain stuff about IPV6 and think it makes sense, but it ain't happening anytime soon. Anyone who tries to do the IPv6 thing today will be remembered as "the guys who were too early for their time" a decade from now. Even the NAT traversal approach feels like solving a problem nobody asked for today. What I need as a user are more user friendly features (and good enough privacy) instead of perfect privacy.
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