The National Broadband Network (NBN) must have Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) enabled at a network level, according to the Internet Society of Australia.
Speaking to a Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network, society President Tony Hill told senators that the newer Internet Protocol standard must be implemented at a network level, rather than by service providers.
Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) is currently the dominant standard used for allocating addresses in most Internet services, but is rapidly running out of addresses.
"A turning point was reached in the development of the Internet in January this year," Hill said to the Senate hearing. "At that point, only ten per cent of the available IPv4 addresses were available for allocation."
Since January, the number of available addresses has since dropped further, to a total of eight percent. While some service providers have warned that IPv4 allocation will be exhausted by 2012, Hill said it could happen sooner, by 2011.
Hill commended the government on its transition scheme to IPv6, which it released in 2007 and sees all Federal Government departments move to a contiguous set of IPv6 addresses by the end of 2015.
Hill also reaffirmed concerns laid out in the Internet Society's submission (PDF) to the Senate committee last month, which stated the national network potentially faced problems without the implementation of IPv6.
While service providers could provide IPv6 address to its customers on top of the NBN, Hill said the society was concerned that ISPs may not want to fully implement the protocol due to competition and profit concerns. According to the society, the protocol should instead be implemented at an infrastructure level on the network, and would occur on the Layer 3 or network layer of the network, which the NBN currently does not support.
"Our proposal is that this network should take account of this new technology," Hill said.
In an earlier submission (PDF) released in June last year, the Internet Society said the implementation of IPv6 by the NBN would allow it to become a "platform for innovation that that will create new opportunities for the Australian ICT sector".