IPv6 transition means more than replacing routers

Jessica Scarpati
SearchTelecom.com
After years of dismissing the frantic pleas of standards bodies and industry groups to develop and implement an IPv6 transition plan, telecom and cable operators have begun to ready their networks to support the next-generation Internet protocol. Early adopters say carriers undergoing the transition need to realize that a successful IPv6 migration requires more than just upgraded router software.
 
Many telecom carriers kicked off their IPv6 transition plans several years ago at a crawling pace, but the momentum has picked up in recent months. Doug Junkins, CTO of NTT America, the global IP backbone division of Japanese telecom giant NTT Corp., began work on IPv6 seven years ago. He has seen pushback against IPv6 dissolve over the past 12 to 18 months.
 
"Most backbones I'm aware of have deployed IPv6 or plan to deploy IPv6 at some point," Junkins said. "I haven't seen a lot of resistance [recently]. People have accepted that it's something that has to be done."
 
This burst of activity isn't quite so surprising. The worldwide IPv4 address pool has been shrinking for the past decade and is expected to dry up in less than a year, according to John Curran, CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN). Curran has been pressing carriers to move faster on their IPv6 migrations.
 
"For some carriers, this has reached the level of the boardroom and is something first and foremost they're paying attention to. For others, it seems to be something that is a distraction," said Curran, former CTO for XO Communications. "IPv6 is the answer [the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)] came up with. People who say they're sure something else will come along don't realize IPv6 is what we came up with 15 years ago."
 
Completing an IPv4 to IPv6 migration is a massive undertaking for carriers, and many have been reluctant to take their top engineers off more lucrative projects to tackle what executives see as unprofitable housekeeping, Curran said.
 

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