Crunch time for IPv6

John C. Tanner
Telecom Asia

APNIC has warned that the internet will run out of IPv4 addresses in late 2011. While there's still time to deploy IPv6, a group of telecom insiders said that the sector pushing hardest to get v6 out the door - the mobile guys - is also the furthest behind in IPv6 readiness. Participants in an online discussion, moderated by Telecom Asia global technology editor John Tanner and sponsored by Cisco, also raised concerns about service providers' OSS/BSS platforms, which just like in any network project can always catch you out.

Telecom Asia: We've known about IPv4's limited address pool for a long time, and IPv6 has been around since 1999. Why has IPv6 take-up been so slow?

Hon Kit Lam: I think we all understand that NAT (network address translation) is one of the factors delaying deployment. The other factor is device readiness for v6 - support for v6 from the OS and the device. But that will not be a factor for much longer, because we are already getting more OSs and devices supporting v6, and with more mobile devices needing an IP address, that will drive more demand for v6 support.

David Woodgate: There's been very much a chicken-and-egg situation about vendors waiting for sufficient demand for IPv6 and customers waiting for vendors to support IPv6. We're getting to a point now where the vendors are supplying equipment that is IPv6-capable across the board. Plus it has taken a long time for people to be convinced that the addresses were actually going to run out. I think it's also worth remembering that we're talking about roughly 15 to 20 years here since the development of IPv6. That sort of compares with how long it took for IPv4 to become prevalent.

Chris Liljenstolpe: I would add that a lot of carriers have a finite set of resources to invest in their networks, and a large portion of those resources are driven by one of two things: a crisis in the network, or customer demand and customer feature requirements. And if customers aren't asking for v6, it becomes hard to push your investment portfolio toward deploying v6.

Fred Baker: It's going to take time and resources. If we have to do it all at once, it's a lot harder. At the IPv6 Forum we've been trying to suggest to people that they start trial deployments early, that they work on their OSS software early. So, it's really not a matter of us saying every year, "You need to deploy IPv6 and this time we really mean it." The statement has been, "It's going to take time to test things and get it right, so start."

Tanapon Chandavasu: What we hear from our corporate customers who have tried our v6 service is that you don't see a lot of websites that are v6 ready. So they don't see it as an urgent requirement. I was happy to hear that Google and YouTube now support v6. But I don't hear anybody else coming out and saying that. So I'm still worried.

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