Cable Giants Get Aggressive on IPv6

Comcast and Time Warner Cable are moving aggressively this year to get IPv6 out to broadband customers, using a native dual stack approach

March 20, 2012

2 Min Read
Cable Giants Get Aggressive on IPv6

DENVER -- Cable Next-Gen Broadband Strategies -- Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) both expect to roll out IPv6 to a substantial number of customers this year, though neither is giving out specifics.

John Brzozowski, chief architect for IPv6 at Comcast, told a breakfast audience here that Comcast will have IPv6 deployed in half of its network by the end of the second quarter and is "happily on our way to nationwide IPv6 deployment," some of which spills over into 2013.

Brzozowski also says Comcast will have an IPv6 home networking solution to announce, probably by summer. That becomes more important as content moves to IPv6 and consumers get their hands on newer IPv6-capable devices.

Lee Howard, director of network technology for Time Warner Cable, reiterated that the MSO will have 100,000 customers on IPv6-capable networks by June 6, the new World IPv6 Launch Day, and added today that TWC sees 2012 as a year for substantial IPv6 activity, though that activity will continue into 2013. (See IPv6 Global Event Gets Real.)

Those plans put the cable giants at the forefront of announced IPv6 deployment to U.S. consumers.

Cox Communications Inc. doesn't have as aggressive a rollout plan for consumers, but has delivered IPv6 already to its business customers who take optical services, says Jeff Finkelstein, Cox's senior director, network architecture.

"We are slowly moving toward market trials in a limited number of markets this year -- not as quickly as Comcast and Time Warner, but we are taking a lot of learnings out of their early market launches," Finkelstein says. "By the end of the year, we are hoping to be in more than three trial markets."

All three companies have decided to go native dual stack, essentially deploying IPv4 and IPv6 side-by-side throughout their network. This is considered the most graceful solution to deploying IPv6 while continuing to support IPv4, but is often also the most expensive, which has led some carriers to consider transition strategies such as tunneling and Carrier-Grade Network Address Translation.

All three cable technologists say their extensive examination of IPv6 transition options led to the conclusion that native dual-stack is the only approach that isn't a Band-Aid approach, which essentially delays addressing the real problem: getting IPv6 out to the entire customer base.

"I can't say there are not circumstances under which we wouldn't use a different transition strategy," Howard says. "But since native IPv6 is our long-term strategy, anyway, it makes more sense to do that now."

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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