Report: Most ISPs Are IPv6 Ready

Global survey shows roughly one third of ISPs won't have IPv6 addresses to give out next year, when IPv4 is predicted to run dry

September 14, 2010

3 Min Read
Report: Most ISPs Are IPv6 Ready

Is the IPv6 glass half-empty or half-full? Number Resource Organization (NRO) , the official representative of the five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) that manage the pool of Internet Protocol addresses, could fuel either side of the IPv6 preparation argument.

On the one hand, 60 percent of ISPs offer, or plan to offer, IPv6 addresses to their consumer customers within the next year. That number goes up to 70 percent where business customers are concerned.

That's substantial progress, says John Curran, president and CEO of the non-profit American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) . He notes those numbers have risen sharply in the past few years, as more ISPs accept the fact that even with Network Address Translation and other ways of mitigating dwindling IPv4 addresses, the end is near and must be anticipated. (See Is IPv6 Finally on the Verge?)

But that means that, even though only 6 percent of IPv4 addresses remain -- and total exhaustion of those numbers is expected next year -- about one third of ISPs will not be in position to offer IPv6 addresses to their customers at that point, and, according to the survey, 10 percent of ISPs have no plans to offer IPv6.

"Some 25 percent of ISPs are offering IPv6 service today, and that number goes up to 60 percent within a year and 80 percent within two years, and that's encouraging," Curran tells Light Reading. "The most important thing we are seeing is that there is awareness and deployment. In the past, when we've done these surveys, we haven't seen that."

The survey, which was funded by the European Commission and conducted by GNKS Consult and TNO , polled more than 1,500 organizations from 140 countries, 58 percent of which were ISPs.

Of those not deploying IPv6, the survey showed the biggest hurdle is perceived cost. One of the messages ARIN and other registries are trying to spread is that some of those perceptions may be wrong, Curran says. Many vendors have been building IPv6 support capability into their hardware for some time, while current versions of their software also support IPv6. That means the upgrade may not be as capital intensive as some ISPs suspect.

"One of the things we are recommending is that companies at least explore a little farther into the planning phase before they rule it out," Curran says. "The process may not be as expensive as people fear."

Almost half of the survey respondents said the lack of knowledgeable technical staff is another hurdle to IPv6 adoption, and the five registries are addressing that issue by arranging technical training.

Curran also says the registries are in position to block attempts to hoard or in any way misuse the remaining supply of IPv4 addresses. (See Hurricane Electric Spins Different IPv6 View.)

"We do quite a bit of vetting on the requests that come in," he says. "The applications are signed by corporate officers, and they can be held responsible. We don't get a lot of fraudulent applications. If you engage in fraud, ARIN has the ability to remove existing addresses."

The message from the registries continues to be that every ISP and most large corporate organizations need to have a plan to manage this transition, or face increased expense or serious hurdles to growth.

The question remains, however, whether enough ISPs and enterprises are taking that advice seriously.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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