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IPv6: The Summer It Finally Happened

A decade old guessing game finally came to an end during these 2012 summer months.

America was supposed to be hopelessly behind while Europe had not much to show after a decade of spending lavishly EU money on IPv6 related projects. China and Japan were thought to be light years ahead of everybody else. But in the end, it was the might of the American Content Industry that tipped the scales. They added the needed momentum to the US Federal procurement policies that got the supply side seriously moving over the last couple of years, including equipment, software and network service providers.

This summer will have delighted IPv6 watchers as a growing number of sites allow them to witness the evolution of the global IP network and its constituent parts in quasi real time. APNIC IPv6 measurements make it easy to compare and track the relative rankings based on AS numbers and geographies. This is complemented by a most interesting site that tracks the progress on the content side identifying who in the Alexa 10,000 supports IPv6. A cross reference, with the Alexa ranking proper, ferrets out who talks and who walks the walk. A cursory look just showed 5 of the Alexa top 10 ranked sites in the world providing access in both IPv4 and IPv6. They are the top four, Google, Facebook, Youtube and Yahoo as well as number six, Wikipedia. The five top delinquents in the top 10? Number five Baidu (China), number seven Windows Live, number eight Twitter, number nine QQ.Com (China), and number ten Amazon.

Google stats and more recently Akamai also give a good appreciation of the state of IPv6 while the world’s premier internet exchange, AMS-IX in Amsterdam, continues to provide relevant readings of the IPv6 traffic accumulating in the global IP bloodstream. By now, most major ISP’s also track IPv6 traffic within their networks more seriously or have at least allocated some money to upgrade their tools.

When the IETF crowd gathered in Vancouver in late July, participants had the chance to attend a bell weather ISOC sponsored IPv6 panel that included inter alia Google, Akamai and Comcast. To see Verizon Wireless listed in the top IPv6 ranking reflected the break neck pace of deployment of LTE and the astonishing growth of Mobile Broadband. This was gratifying as we postulated some time ago in these columns, that LTE could eventually be a key catalyst for IPv6 adoption and growth.

On a side note, the Canadian ranking for AS originated IPv6 traffic earlier today shows Teksavvy of Toronto (AS5645) in the lead, followed by Montreal’s Videotron (AS5769) and Allstream (AS15290) in third position. A week ago, Videotron was in the lead. The list of the top 20 worldwide also evolves week by week while the number of networks reaching the 1% and 2% thresholds grow at a fast pace. Fascinating to watch but extrapolation is by no means much easier than before.

This summer of 2012, IPv6 discovered adulthood.

By Yves Poppe, Director, Business Development IP Strategy at Tata Communications

(Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these articles are solely those of the author and are not in any way attributable to nor reflect any existing or planned official policy or position of his employer in respect thereto.)

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