ISPs are being encouraged to upgrade to make changes to their internet protocols, Julian Clover addresses the issue.
It does seem an impossibility, bordering on the ludicrous, that the internet might someday soon run out of addresses. The problem is not so much the various combinations of letters in an email address, though it must be so frustrating to be called John Smith, but the Internet Protocol that makes it all happen.
Internet Protocol Version 4 has been with us almost as long as the internet itself. Slowly but surely the addresses are running out and there is the possibility that for some ISPs the next allocation might end up being the last.
This may not be a concern if you are already connected, but if a new business comes to town there is the distinct possibility that it may have to leave again if the internet provider cannot deliver.
Chris Busch, CTO of provisioning company Incognito Software, says it is the smaller operators that need to sit up and take notice. “The largest of the large have this front of mind, they’re all working on it and they’re all implementing and dealing with the problem, it’s the next rung down of operator that says I have enough space for the next two years out of what I have been delegated, I’ll look at it in a year.”
Busch tells me it is difficult to know how well the message is actually getting through, whether it is just the larger operators who are paying attention, or if the message is also reaching governments and institutions. How far everyone has come will be a matter for discussion at the V6 World Congress being held in Paris in February next year.
The reasons for not participating in conversion are many and varied, ranging from not being high on the list of engineering to dos, through to a lack of realisation of the commercial significance.
Busch says operators should perform a network audit of systems and applications, taking in routers, switches, CMTSs and DSLAMs. Where customers are concerned a new modem could be sent in the post, but Windows XP doesn’t directly support IPv6, and although the operator can tunnel the traffic elsewhere, there may still be applications, gaming or a link to the office that no longer works.
An easier route may already be in place through the CableLabs specification for DOCSIS 3.0 and its European broader bandwidth counterpart EuroDOCSIS, which include IPv6 as part of the specification. DOCSIS 2.0 doesn’t include the upgrade, though there is a bolt on DOCSIS 2.0 + 1Pv6 standard. Arguably with operators upgrading themselves and customers to speeds that require a new modem there lies the means to take the pressure off the system, just as long as someone is ready and willing to manage the process.