Why NAT Isn’t As Bad As You Thought

Martin Geddes:
Why NAT Isn’t As Bad As You Thought:

Please do sit down. Should the shock cause you to suddenly lose consciousness, I hereby disclaim all responsibility for any subsequent loss or injury. I’m about to defend the anthrax of the Internet: NAT.

Moaning that NAT is the devil’s technology doesn’t help you. Skype made the technology easy to use through an overlay network. Speak Freely didn’t, because that was seen as an impure thought. The real world clearly values usability over ideological correctness. The day may come when the NATted user of Skype can determine that they receive worse service (e.g. worse voice quality, or a slower frame rate on a video version of Skype.) They will then upgrade to a more expensive Internet connection with more IP addresses for all their proliferating gizmos.

IPv6 doesn’t solve this. The existence of a gazillion unused addresses doesn’t force your limited choice of suppliers to hand any of them over to you. They can simply refuse to route ones they didn’t allocate. Tough luck.

With my Internet architect hat on, I, as much as anyone,
deplore NAT and the present and future mistakes it makes. Same for my futurist hat on. With my security-conscious hat on, I have to say that NAT is the right choice for Joe Average. Preserving the choice in some form is important. I guess I should be inventing NAT-unfriendly protocols so that the price between NATted and unNATed service won’t diverge too much.

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