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IPv6 and Airline Tickets… Tales of Two Transitions

The internet bus continues to accelerate straight into the IPv4 address depletion wall with spirited discussions continuing on how to divvy up the remnants of the address space. Obviously all five Regional Internet Registries (RIR’s) want to make sure they get their fair share from IANA but what is a fair share remains the subject of interpretation. In the mean time, scenarios of a speculative land rush and auctions of ever smaller address blocks abound with unattractive consequences such as an explosion of the size of the routing table and a stunted growth of the global internet economy. That it was not supposed to be that way was colorfully illustrated by Geoff Huston at the RIPE meeting in Berlin last month. Ten years ago it was a logical extrapolation that a decade would be enough to have sufficiently wide deployment of dual stack before the remaining IPv4 address pool would fall below a critical limit and start impacting the growth of the internet. In all fairness nobody could anticipate if and when a runaway consumption of IP addresses would happen. Today, with more than 3 billion mobile phones evolving into an even larger number of multi-functional mobile IP access devices and the looming machine to machine communication era, little or no doubt is left that the critical point has been reached and that we are witnessing a runaway phase.

The accelerating IPv4 address depletion brought back the issue of how to have IPv6 only devices talking to IPv4 only devices and vice-versa. This rekindled interest in the rather ungainly translation mechanisms embodied by NAT-PT and new acronyms such as NAT64 and NAT46 and even NAT464, all of which are detrimental to the end to end principle of the internet. To spend too much time on these contorsion mechanisms will likely turn out to be a waste. The size and importance of the internet economy is such that any serious impediment to its growth and revenue potential will be washed away rapidly; if continued growth implies IPv6, we could very well witness an IPv6 deployment stampede amongst tier 2 networks and content distribution networks without too much warning. Major tier 1 networks on the other hand seem quite advanced in their readiness to cope with a sudden growth of an IPv6 traffic wave.

In the meantime, the airline industry completed a rather significant migration of their own; IATA announced the end of the paper ticket era, effective June 1st. The first e-ticket was issued in 1994 but the uptake was slow and by May 2004 only 19% of tickets issued were e-tickets but by April 2008 it was 95%. Rising fuel costs and post September 11th security concerns were the catalysts leading to a concerted and rather ambitious 4 year effort starting in 2004 to be all electronic by June 2008. No doubt that the growing popularity of on-line travel reservations over this period greatly facilitated the transition, but the magnitude this internet-induced phenomenon would have and its impact on the travel industry was probably not anticipated, even four years ago.

Have we seen the last airline paper ticket?

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.

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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v6 Richard Otieno  –  Jul 6, 2008 3:59 PM

Every affordable attitude owned by an IP consumer appreciates the relief attached to supposedly fast deployment of v6 in good time(barely 1270 days remaining!). As a disciple of this noble revolution, I would like to see ‘fair share’ approached with access population in mind and geared towards using this opportunity to accelerate economic rejuvenation for surviving entities, bodies, governments, academic fraternities and many similar candidates. We need to be sensitive to infrastructural challenges that bedevil some resource subscribers. By the way, let me check my e-ticket again. Thanks.

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