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Hitachi Retreads IPv6 Path

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LR Mobile News Analysis
Light Reading
3/25/2003

Hitachi Ltd. (NYSE: HIT; Paris: PHA) is the latest in a long line of industry vendors to argue the case for a full IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) upgrade, claiming this week that 3G and wireless LAN rollouts will be the driving forces for carriers to implement the new protocol.

“These new technologies will make IPv6 a mandatory requirement on all networks,” Uri Rahamim, Hitachi's Internetworking VP of marketing and sales, tells Unstrung. “Without IPv6, it is going to be like hitting a brick wall.”

Although most industry watchers agree that there will be a need for the upgrade from IPv4 at some point in the future, there is ongoing debate as to exactly when this will be necessary (see Poll Shows Divisions Over IPv6 and European IPv6 Plan Comes Under Fire).

Not surprisingly, Hitachi’s man is beating the drum for an early transition. “By 2005 we will have one billion mobile users connected to the Internet -- by then we will be hitting that wall,” he asserts. “IPv6 is the only way to provide the foundation for the next growth of the Internet.”

While market analysts agree that 2005 is a possible date when IPv4 address space could finally become exhausted, budget restraints mean that any upgrades by carriers are unlikely to adopt a Big Bang approach.

“It is going to be a piecemeal process,” says Richard Webb, European networks market analyst at Infonetics Research Inc.. "That’s why, although it has been talked about for a while, IPv6 still hasn’t really landed. Some service providers have dipped their toes in the water, but none of them have plans for wholesale upgrades.” Webb adds that, while service providers are aware of the need to upgrade, many are expressing the desire to see “a little more stability” in the move to IPv6 before taking the plunge.

Hitachi, of course, has a vested interest in shortening the timeline to full rollout, and Rahamim admits that a primary aim for the company as a whole is the rapid introduction of the protocol in Europe. In June 2001 the vendor launched its GR2000 router series -- the first company to release IPv6 in hardware -- and in September that year deployed a commercial IPv6 network, linking seven major European cities.

Hitachi’s GR2000 Gigabit Router series was one of a number of products to have recently undergone a course of conformance, interoperability, and performance tests conducted by BII Group, a Beijing-based institute that has led the charge on rolling out a commercial IPv6 network in China (see IPv6 Routers Get Tested and IPv6 Router Test).

The tests demonstrated that, while positive steps have been taken in the move to IPv6, there is still further development work needed. A hyperlinked summary of the results is provided below:

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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