World IPv6 Launch a major milestone

David Krozier/Ovum
06 Jun 2012

Ovum sees World IPv6 Launch, coordinated by the Internet Society, as a major milestone in the transition to IPv6.

For the website owners, ISPs, carriers, and network equipment and computer vendors that have been working for years to implement IPv6, today is a day to celebrate the beginning of global IPv6 services.

Rather than the 24-hour trial that occurred on last year’s World IPv6 Day, World IPv6 Launch will mark the culmination of years of effort to turn up commercial IPv6 services. After World IPv6 Launch, most leading websites will have IPv6 enabled permanently, many residential equipment vendors (including Cisco, D-Link, and ZyXEL) will include IPv6 connectivity in their default product settings, and commercial IPv6 services will finally begin a multi-year growth surge.

IPv6 will support internet address space on a global scale

With IPv4, each public Internet host is assigned a 32-bit IP address. In a world of 7 billion people undergoing an explosion of IP-enabled devices, the limitation of IPv4 in supporting only 4.3 billion IP addresses is obvious. The use of Network Address Translation (NAT) and efforts to reclaim and recycle unused IPv4 addresses has slowed the consumption of IPv4 addresses, but the need for a new scalable protocol like IPv6 is inevitable.

In a sense, IPv4 address space has already run out, providing a sense of urgency to IPv6 deployment. In February 2011 the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) made its final allocations of IPv4 addresses to the five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs). The RIRs in turn allocate smaller blocks of IP addresses to ISPs within their regions. The RIR serving the Asia-Pacific region has the smallest remaining pool of unallocated IPv4 address space. As a result, it is limiting the number of IPv4 addresses it will allocate to ISPs in a final effort to extend availability.

The need for IPv6 is not a recent discovery. IPv6 was standardized within the IETF way back in December 1998, but for years, while IPv4 addresses seemed plentiful, it was hard to convince ISPs, carriers, and enterprises of the need to invest in IPv6 deployment. Without a critical mass of IPv6-enabled users, website owners saw no need to make the conversion either. Ovum believes that as IPv6 services become prevalent, the cost of not migrating will eventually outweigh the cost of converting.

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