Government rules out IPv6 deadline for NZ

The government has decided there will be no direct action to force New Zealand companies to start making changes, nor will a deadline be established for all organisations to support IPv6.

Nathan Guy, acting Minister of ICT, revealed the government's thinking in a low-profile address at a Wellington hui on IPv6 organised by InternetNZ late last month.

Australian co-founder of lobby group IPv6Now, Tony Hill, a speaker at the hui, thinks a hands-off approach is the right one.

IPv6Now decided against a direct approach to government, he says. Instead, the group's approach was to ginger up industries and let them make the government aware of the urgency; which seems to have worked, he says.

The Australian government did set a deadline for IPv6 conversion, initially at 2015, but while the three local hui were in progress news came this had been wound back to 2012.

Guy, on behalf of ICT Minister Steven Joyce, who was in Australia, told the Wellington hui the minister does not believe that regulatory intervention is appropriate.

"Adoption of IPv6 needs to be led by the private sector. The private sector must recognise that adopting IPv6 is in their own best interests, to protect their investment in online capabilities into the future.

"Issues of advantages and disadvantages, costs, risks, timing, methodology and so on, have to be for each enterprise to assess for itself.

"There is no single best answer for all."

Government will lead by example, he says. Its own major networks, KAREN for science and education and one.govt, the projected replacement for the Government Shared Network, were designed to support IPv6 from the start.

Some delegates at the conference pointed to the contrast with the analogue television switch-off, where government has established a deadline and is investing considerable effort and money.

Just last week the government created a Digital Switchover Steering Group with representatives from Kordia, Sky, Television New Zealand, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and the Ministry of Economic Development. An executive director was contracted to manage the project.

"The group will be responsible for a comprehensive public information programme to ensure the public is fully informed throughout the transition process, and that all New Zealanders know exactly what they need to do to switch to digital," Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman announced at the launch of the steering group.

Internet pioneer Vint Cerf addressed the Wellington and Auckland hui events, but not the Christchurch one. While deference to Cerf was evident at the Wellington hui, there was some muttering when he spoke on such tenuously connected matters as extraterrestrial internet tests.

"And so back thankfully to IPv6," said one sotto voice after that excursion.

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