The time has finally come - internet protocol version 4 (IPv4) has run out of addresses.
However, with internet founders calling for action on IPv4’s successor, the deeper topic of discussion continues around when service providers will begin to offer IPv6 natively on their networks.
With the task more urgent, we have decided to revisit the topic, and asked several key players in the industry on when they would offer a trial or flick the switch on IPv6.
To start with, the good news. Internode’s IPv6 native trial is still going with managing director, Simon Hackett, reporting between 200 and 220 residential users are actively on the IPv6 dual stack network at any one time.
The ISP has undergone continued change behind the scenes to prioritise IPv6 capability in their core routers and, in light of IPv4 address exhaustion, this week announced plans to move to a full production environment by the end of the year.
iiNet’s managing director, Michael Malone, has attributed delayed deployment of IPv6 to the lack of a business case for the protocol. While once calling IPv6’s other capabilities “cute”, he has disagreed that IPv6 is a marketable commodity for users.
However, the ISP has included the protocol on its features roadmap for some time. The company’s operations manager and IPv6 strategy lead, Dwayne Varey, told Computerworld Australia customers could expect to see some form of IPv6 capability by the end of the year through both a dual stack environment and tunneling methods where necessary.
The first product of the ISP’s in-house research and development labs, BoB Lite, supports IPv6 and will be used by the provider as a means of overcoming the lack of support in other residential equipment, something Varey says is the “largest obstacle” to full deployment.
However, Varey said the business case for IPv6 remained lacking.
“As there are limited applications that have been built to take advantage of the features offered by IPv6, the only compelling reasons for any organisation to adopt it at this stage is the access to a much larger pool of addresses and to ensure that as content becomes available over IPv6 exclusively, our customers can still access it,” he said.
Though Telstra’s enterprise division has offered advice on migration to IPv6 for some time, the telco is yet to confirm a timeframe for a complete customer transition to the protocol.
A spokesperson said Telstra’s enterprise and wholesale customers will be the first to see the benefits of a dual stack IPv4 and IPv6 network, which will progressively extend to consumer and mobile networks, as compatible equipment becomes available.
They also indicated other internal projects would look to delay internal exhaustion of the company’s IPv4 addresses; particularly important for Australia’s largest mobile carrier.
As with other major carriers, Telstra intends to incorporate a seamless transition process, rather than offering an opt-in production environment as Internode initially provided.
According to an Optus spokesperson, the telco conducted “extensive end-to-end customer testing” across consumer, business and wholesale customers during 2009 and 2010, and has a detailed program for introduction of the protocol and its capabilities at little impact to the end-user.
However, the spokesperson refused to comment on when specifically customers would begin to see IPv6 up and running over the carrier.
Exetel support personnel told Computerworld Australia via email that an IPv6 deployment was planned “in near future”, but could not provide a time frame.
“As soon as it is available we will inform our customer [sic],” they said.
TPG plans to offer a trial IPv6 environment from the second quarter of 2011, with testing already under way. Though usually silent on such issues, a spokesperson told Computerworld Australia it intended to offer the environment “to be in par with rest of the internet community”. Initially a dual stack network, the company could offer other tunneling or NAT options for some users in future.
The wholesale provider refused to comment on the issue.
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