A new paper shines some light on the “next generation internet” China is building—and it’s far ahead of anything any other country has at the moment. The improvements aren’t just superficial faster broadband fluff either. They are deeply important changes to the very backbone of the system.

The first is something governments all over the world are addressing, that the internet is rapidly running out of space. On the present system, called IPv4, every domain you go to—say, qz.com—actually takes you to one of several address that look something like this: That, in turn, is read by computers as four separate eight-bit components. The 4.3 billion spots available in these 32 bits are inefficiently distributed, badly assigned, and quickly becoming redundant.

What China is implementing is IPv6, which is four times as long and has 7,906,976,744,186,046,511,627,906,976,744 times as much capacity. They had little choice. The gap between the number of addresses…

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