For many years, networking architects and software engineers have been working to ensure that the fabric of Internet connectivity is future-proof as wave upon wave of devices, people and services continue to connect. As a result of this work we have a solution to one of the Internet’s growing pains, but it requires work from all of us to deliver on the potential.
One of the fundamental building blocks of Internet connectivity is the IP address, and as the network has grown inexorably the supply of IPv4 addresses has dwindled. CIOs now face the dilemma of choosing between spending money to buy more IPv4 address space on the transfer market, spending money to deploy address-sharing technology, or spending money to implement and deploy IPv6.
This is a dilemma being confronted by more and more organizations around the world as businesses merge, as start-ups join the network and seek resources to connect, and as day-to-day expansion drives the need to upgrade capacity.
For an increasing number of businesses, the right choice is clear. While deploying IPv6 today will not remove dependencies on IPv4 overnight, it will future-proof business-critical networking platforms and make it possible in some cases to offset some of the cost by selling IPv4 resources on the transfer market. The time to make that investment and realize those assets is now before their value inevitably crashes.
The scale, scope and trajectory of IPv6 deployment in 2018 is set out in our recently published report. Many of the major network operators In the U.S., Europe and Asia have massively deployed IPv6. For example, in the U.S. T-Mobile has 93 percent, in India Reliance JIO has 87 percent, in the U.K. British Sky Broadcasting has 86 percent and in Belgium VOO has 73 percent IPv6 deployment (see http://www.worldipv6launch.org/measurements for details of these and other IPv6-capable network operators).
Nearly half a billion people use IPv6 among just the top 15 ISPs combined. India’s Reliance JIO has the most IPv6 users with 237 million, the United States’ Comcast is number two with 36 million and the United States’ AT&T is third with 30 million. Reliance JIO activated over 200 million subscribers with IPv6 connectivity in just nine months, between September 2016 and June 2017.
IPv6 deployment is global, and the top 10 countries using the new protocol are Belgium, Greece, Germany, the U.S., Uruguay, India, Switzerland, Japan, Malaysia and Brazil. Belgium was the first country in the world where the majority of connections to IPv6-capable content providers used IPv6. 80 percent of smartphones in the US on the major cellular network operators (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon) use IPv6. Less than three years ago this was under 40 percent. In 2012, less than one in a hundred connections to Google services used IPv6. Today that number is nearly one in four.
All of this momentum is striking and the future seems increasingly clear. There are numerous resources available to help organizations with their requirements for training and education about the IPv6 deployment strategy that is right for their business. The Regional Internet Registries are particularly focused on this aspect and provide training for their members in all regions of the world.
The journey to an IPv6-only network without any dependencies on legacy IPv4 technology will be a long one, which is why it is so important to start as soon as possible to ensure that the inefficiencies and costs of managing multiple stacks and address-sharing workarounds do not engulf the profitability of the business.
Deploying IPv6 and then working constantly to minimize business dependencies on IPv4 will help to ensure that the challenges of IT management don’t include maintaining the scalability of the networking infrastructure any more than necessary. Over time, the headache of managing legacy IPv4 infrastructure will be eased.