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IPv6 Headed Home, Lab Says

The telecom industry has made significant progress toward enabling IPv6 devices to function in the home, according to recent test results released today by the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (IOL) .

And while there are still issues to be resolved in making sure broadband service providers can reliably support consumers on IPv6-based devices, the most recent tests showed vast improvements from where they were in tests conducted in February and May of this year, says Tim Winters, senior manager for the UNH-IOL.

"The situation then was pretty dreary – there were a lot of issues," Winters says. "But a lot of those issues have been addressed."

Winters says further directions from the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) via RFC 6204, released now in draft form, have given the companies that make broadband CPE for homes and small offices and broadband services providers more clearly defined standards.

The UNH-IOL testing, which involved seven vendors and one operator -- Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) -- verified that the broadband routers are ready for deployment in IPv6 and, just as important, that at least some of them can support a transition mechanism, known as 6rd, which is being used to maintain connectivity when a service provider is supporting both IPv4 and IPv6 (as most will have to do for some time to come) without deploying dual-stack networks.

The seven CPE vendors involved were: Actiontec Electronics Inc. , Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), D-Link Systems Inc. , Lantiq Semiconductor and Motorola Mobility LLC .

Broadband service providers are pursuing transition mechanisms as a cost-effective way to move to IPv6 without deploying dual-stack routers throughout their networks or ripping out all existing IPv4 gear, both of which are more expensive options. But the industry hasn't settled on one transition strategy, Winters admits, and that is likely to be a point of discussion and debate going forward.

The UNH-IOL is doing its part with a white paper that explains the most current round of test results and a series of YouTube how-to videos, beginning with this snappy title: How to complete a USGv6 Test Program Suppliers Declaration of Conformity (SDoC).

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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