Major Telecoms Starting Migration to IPv6

By Fahmida Y. Rashid  |  Posted 2011-02-01 Print this article Print


Arbor Networks surveyed IPv6 adoption in the summer and found that less than a tenth of a percent of all traffic used IPv6, "almost below the threshold of what we could measure," according to Craig Labovitz, the chief scientist at Arbor Networks.

While the infrastructure is in place for IPv4 systems and IPv6 systems to run in parallel, widespread adoption of IPv6 has been very slow because the two systems are not compatible and there was no economic incentive for companies to do so. "The two protocols can coexist, but they can't intercommunicate," Nigel Titley, chairman of RIPE NCC, told eWeekEurope. 

Users on systems with IPv6 addresses couldn't access sites and services with IPv4 addresses. "Gradually, as IPv6 usage ramps up, IPv4 usage will ramp down. And eventually it will get to a point where we envisage retiring IPv4 altogether."

While the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 many be a little bumpy for larger organizations, it shouldn't be calamitous at all for most companies. Modern computers are generally IPv6 compliant, but businesses may need to upgrade their routers and switches.

"It's a gold mine because everybody eventually has to upgrade" to equipment that is compatible with IPv6," Joel Conover, a Cisco senior marketing manager, told the Wall Street Journal.

Many large sites, such as Google, have already rolled out an IPv6 site for customers already on that system. Google, Facebook and Yahoo are among some of the larger companies planning a one-day test run of IPv6 addresses as part of World IPv6 Day, on June 8, to encourage the transition to the new namespace.

Major telecommunication companies have been upgrading their infrastructure over the past few years in anticipation of the transition. Comcast has begun assigning IPv6 addresses to its cable modem customers in a "native dual stack" configuration, wrote John Brzozowski, the cable company's chief architect for IPv6, on the corporate blog on Jan.31. Under this configuration, customers have both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses and can access content and services over both systems. Comcast's first 25 IPv6-enabled customers went live Jan. 11 in the Littleton, Colo. area, according to the post.

TimeWarner Cable has already signed up commercial customers on IPv6 and plans to begin residential IPv6 trials in the spring. TimeWarner Cable is also expected to adopt a dual-stack approach similar to that of Comcast. "Time Warner Cable has long been preparing for the eventual end of IPv4 address availability," said chief technology officer Mike LaJoie.

Domain infrastructure company VeriSign will also provide business services to assist companies with the transition during the year, the company said during its earnings call.

"The sky is not falling, but rather there is a real opportunity to do so much more with how the Internet connects everyone to everything," said Durand.


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