Is your ISP ready for IPv6?

Survey suggests not everyone is prepared

The move to a new protocol is billed as the internet’s largest ever upgrade, but is your ISP ready for when the current pool of addresses runs out?

The internet’s regional registries say that less than five percent of the world’s IPv4 addresses – the main communications protocol – remain. The switch to IPv6, the new protocol that can support an almost limitless number of addresses, is imminent. An IPv6 Taskforce was set up in 2008 by the Ministry of Economic Development and InternetNZ to educate and promote the migration. It is headed by technology consultant Murray Milner, and he is concerned the message is not getting through. So the taskforce, which up until now has focussed primarily on educating CIOs and IT managers about IPv6, is switching its focus to the telecommunications industry.

How prepared are ISPs for the switch to IPv6? It appears Milner doesn’t know.

“We would love to advertise their status on our website so that people know what is going on, but they have been quite remiss in not being specific about current status with respect to IPv6 adoption,” he claims to Computerworld.

“By all means give them [the ISPs] a call, we would love to get the feedback. We are keen for them to be more open about their status and hopefully it is good news, that is how we would like it to be. If it is bad news then we ought to do something about it. ”

So Computerworld approached the top ISPs in the country – and we received replies from 10 companies to three questions that we asked the IPv6 Taskforce to help us phrase (see tablebelow).

The replies indicate that some ISPs are more prepared than others for the switch to IPv6.

Eight companies, Compass, InspireNet, Maxnet, Orcon, TelstraClear, Vodafone, Woosh and WorldxChange answered our questions, all claiming to have clear roadmaps to IPv6 deployment.

Vodafone says it is currently able to provision IPv6 to Ethernet customers only, but expects to have IPv6 services for all its broadband customers the next two years.

“We have secured an additional block from APNIC (Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre) so don’t see any short-term issues. However, all our new equipment is IPv6 capable and we plan to be IPv6 across the network by FY2012 to 2013.”

Others, such as Orcon, said that it was not possible to provide IPv6 on some products – notably in the consumer market — because of end-user equipment.

“Some products, however, currently use home DSL subscribers are unable to use IPv6 and there are very limited number of modems which support IPv6. Once these are available Orcon will be able to offer IPv6 to home users. We are confident that we are well on track for the transition,” the company says.

TelstraClear says its IP network has supported native IPv6 for a number of years. “We have IPv6 transit to international networks via our partner Reach. TelstraClear’s consumer and business access networks and its internet product suite are well on the way to being upgraded to dual stack IPv4/IPv6.”

However, none of the ISPs have a public-facing website that is IPv6 enabled. Milner says that this is becoming increasingly important in overseas jurisdictions, for example some Asian banks are noticing that their customers, because they’re IPv6, can’t access their online accounts.

Some ISPs claimed the reason they didn’t have IPv6 enabled websites is because of their customers’ readiness for IPv6, not their own. WorldxChange says: “Our current live websites are not V6 capable by choice, due to the Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) pricing and availability issues, but we can easily do this in a very short period of time once the end user deployment model for V6 stacks up for us commercially.”

Only two ISPs, CallPlus and Telecom, did not directly address the three questions we asked.

CallPlus says it has established a project to upgrade its core network to IPv6. “While we do not currently have any IPv6 addresses in production within our network, the team managing the project team are away of key milestones and our business will be ready.”

Telecom says “The Telecom ISP ‘Xtra’ has no current provision for IPv6 addressing to its products or services. Telecom as a carrier has yet to provide IPv6 Wholesale or Retail products to the market, however as we replace and upgrade key elements within the network we are ensuring that some form of IPv6 (dual stack or tunnelling) preparedness is considered.”

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