IPv6 Readiness Worldwide

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IPv6 Readiness

by Brady Hicks

Docid: 00021305

Publication Date: 2003

Report Type: MARKET


IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) is the current incarnation of the IP
communications protocol for providing an identification and location system for
networked computers, as well as for routing traffic across the Internet. This
successor to IPv4 – which was developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force –
has been growing in momentum for a number of years. This report examines the
standard’s adoption in recent years, as well as global readiness to accommodate
its expanding use.

Report Contents:

Executive Summary

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Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is the current
version of the IP communications protocol that uses a 128-bit address. It
provides an identification and location system for networked computers, and
routes traffic across the Internet. The technology itself was developed by the
IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) to replace IPv4. As of 20151,
all IPv4 address block allocations have officially been exhausted. Since that
time, IPv6 has emerged as the de-facto, current standard for the field.

Figure 1 illustrates how IPv6 operates.

Figure 1. How IPv6 Works

Figure 1. How IPv6 Works

Source: ISTweb


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Ultimately, everything that
connects via IP must do so via IPv6, meaning that all network, CPE (customer
premises equipment), and end-user devices must be able to connect to IPv6 sites
over both wired and wireless networks.

Marketplace dynamics are
determined by an inter-dependant ecosystem of ISPs (Internet Service Providers), Web site
operators, and CPE (Customer Premise Equipment) vendors. As such, there also
needs to be a catalyst for action. After all, if a business competitor has IPv6,
then one’s own Web sites and applications need to be accessible over IPv6 as
well. Another motivator is the need to increase the unique content available over IPv6
to meet the next wave of Internet growth: mobility.

Generally speaking, The Register recently noted2 that
Internet users tend to focus only on choice of ISP – based on factors such as
cost, service speed, and network availability – with no thought as to the actual
existence of IPv6. The standard’s adoption proves problematic for the ISP with
its adoption "costing money" and "chewing up resources," thus only impacting the
customer’s bottom-line decision on where to turn for Internet access. Thus, the
news outlet noted, a "big chunk of the Internet isn’t persuaded why they should
shift" fully to IPv6.


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The market for IPv6 technology is contested between:

  • ISPs – Need the new pool of IP addresses to continue signing up new
  • Web Site Operators – Must enable IPv6 to allow access to sites.
  • Home Router Vendors – Need to enable consumers to connect to IPv6
    addresses without special configurations.

Some of these key companies are listed in Table 1.

Table 1. IPv6 Market Leaders


ISPs AT&T, Verizon
Communications, Comcast, among many other ISPs. A
complete listing of IPv6-enabled ISPs is available via the IPv6 Forum.3
Web Site
thousands of Web sites have permanently enabled IPv64, leading
destinations include Google, Facebook, Verizon Media, Wikimedia, and Mozilla.
Home Router
Cisco, D-Link,
and NEC headline this field of home router vendors supporting IPv6.5

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The current rate of IPv6 adoption
stands as a testament to the commitment across the Internet industry, including
ISPs and home router vendors globally, to show broader support and accelerate
deployment of IPv6 across the global Internet. US-based participants included four of the
top15 most visited Web sites in the world6 – Google (1), YouTube
(2), Facebook (6), Verizon’s Yahoo (10), and Wikipedia (#13) – with thousands of companies and
millions of Web sites permanently enabling IPv6 for products and services in
more than 100 countries. With 41 percent of people worldwide (2020) not yet connected to the Internet7,
IPv6 can ensure that the Internet can remain open and accessible to everyone.

Figure 2 shows the availability, worldwide, of IPv6 connectivity.

Figure 2. Per-Country IPv6 Adoption

Figure 2. Per-Country IPv6 Adoption

Source: Akamai Technologies


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The outlook for the IPv6 worldwide market is no longer bright, but a reality. To help gain market share, ISPs, Web site
operators, and home router vendors, among others, are acting sooner rather than
later to maintain competitiveness and promote differentiation and innovation. When evaluating the move to IPv6, decision-makers
tend to focus on the following points:

  • Assess their network to evaluate IPv6 readiness. Doing this now, if it has not already been completed.
  • Develop an IPv6 deployment strategy,
    as well as an IPv4 exhaustion management plan.
  • Consider a dual-stack transitional
    . Will this enable transparency for users? Remember that IPv6 is
    not backward compatible, so IPv4 will have to be maintained until the
    transition to IPv6 is complete.
  • Determine security needs. Will
    they change from those associated with IPv4? Will IPv6 network traffic be
    able to be analyzed to identify service/denial of service attacks quickly?
  • Be proactive in risk planning. Include a realistic appraisal of the risk of
    losing differentiation and competitiveness.
  • Define a migration/transition plan
    that includes support.
  • Decide if IPv6-unique features
    and/or content encourage customer acquisition and retention
  • Develop tools to measure

Readiness Approaches
for Enterprise IPv6 Transition

Planning and testing are the top steps
toward ensuring success. Transition requires careful planning, and the full
impact on network operation, software, and the budget needs to be
considered. Transitional strategies and
need to be the focus of equipment manufacturers, service providers, and
developers as further reliance on IPv4 can only lead to a critical mass of
disappearing resources for Internet growth. Although it may be expensive and
difficult to make the transition, organizations should start developing and
implementing migration plans now rather than later.

The transition process can be approached in
one of four methods:

  • Dual-Stack – A mechanism for
    communicating with both IPv4 and IPv6 devices coexisting in a
    dual-layer IP backbone. It supports applications such as Telnet,
    SNMP, and others over an IPv6 transport. All routers would need to be
  • Overlay Tunnels (Network
    – A technique
    to facilitate IPv6 deployment and enable communications between IPv6
    networks over an IPv4 network or the Internet. IPv6 traffic is
    encapsulated within IPv4 packets for the duration of the transit path
    across the IPv4 network.
  • Dedicated Data Links – IPv6 domains communicate using
    the same Layer 2 infrastructure as IPv4, but over separate Frame Relay,
    optical links, or DWDM.
  • MPLS Backbones – Allows isolated IPv6 domains to
    communicate over an MPLS IPv4 backbone. Little change is required to
    backbone infrastructure because forwarding is based on labels, not the IP

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the Author

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Brady Hicks is an
editor with Faulkner Information Services. He writes about computer and
networking hardware, software, communications networks and equipment, and the

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