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June 6th 2012 is World IPv6 Day – the day a number of high profile Internet related companies turn IPv6 on for good. Last year they did a test run and all went well, so this year it’s for real. Leading companies such as Facebook, Google, AT&T, Cisco and D-Link amongst others have been working towards this deadline to make sure their products, services and websites are fully compatible and able to support IPv6. Sounds like a good excuse for another celebratory Bank Holiday!

Steve Lalonde, Chief Technical Officer

Steve Lalonde, Chief Technical Officer

What about IPv4?

Just because a number of companies are switching to IPv6 permanently does not mean that IPv4 will cease to work or the Internet will crash, as a few scaremongering reports may have us believe. Everything will continue to work as it always has done. However, this is an important event for the future of Internet access. IPv4 addresses have almost completely run out now and a replacement in the form of IPv6 is required urgently. IPv6 addresses will provide significantly more potential addresses as they use 128 bit displayed in hexadecimal format and separated by colons e.g. 2ffe:1800:3525:3:200:f8ff:fe21:67cf, as opposed to IPv4 which uses 32 bit addresses. This means IPv6 has 2128 possible addresses compared to 232 that IPv4 was able to provide. However, the switchover to IPv6 will not be instant and, over the next few years, the Internet will use and support both IPv4 and IPv6.

Entanet’s position

We’ve covered this subject in detail over the past few years as we approached this milestone, stating that we’ve been IPv6 compatible for some time now and offer both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to our customers. All of our own websites including opinion.enta.net utilise IPv6 and have done so for some time now.

IPv4 addresses are currently provided as standard and our resellers can choose to upgrade to an IPv6 address on a specific connection via our online partner interface, synergi. Alternatively, for an Ethernet connection this can be achieved via a request to our customer service or technical support teams.

That said, we purposely don’t provide IPv6 addresses as standard on our broadband and Ethernet connections because we’ve found that many customers would need to upgrade their CPE in order to support the IPv6 address and many don’t currently wish to do that. Therefore, we provide our resellers and their end user customers with a choice. We don’t charge for it of course if they do want it.

As time goes on and the lifespan of legacy equipment expires, coupled with the cost of IPv6 compatible hardware inevitably falling, we expect to see an increase in demand for IPv6 addresses.

As we’ve stated previously (Opinion: IPv6: Ready or not) we think the industry was slow to respond to the issue of depleting IPv4 addresses. At the time we argued that many network operators were putting off the inevitable investment that would be required in their networks to support IPv6 and, similarly, that hardware providers were slow to develop and promote IPv6 compatible equipment which we feel led to a relatively slow adoption of IPv6. However, as the complete consumption of IPv4 addresses has drawn nearer, network operators and hardware manufacturers have taken the necessary action.

Maybe we can’t convince the Government to announce an extra Bank Holiday, but World IPv6 Day will help to highlight the need for IPv6 to the rest of the industry and the general public.

Have your say!

Are you ready for IPv6? Are you providing IPv6 addresses as standard or are you providing your customers with a choice? Are you being specifically asked for IPv6 addresses? Do you think the industry was slow to respond to the IPv4 issue? We would love to hear about your experiences so please leave us a comment below.

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