“Any product and service deployed today without IPv6 represents a missed opportunity and a future cost”

By on 10 Apr 2015

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On Monday March 30 Paul Wilson, Director General of APNIC addressed the APEC TELMIN Industry Forum during Plenary 3, the “Dialogue with Industry Leaders and Academia on their vision of APEC TEL for the future”.

“Good afternoon and thank you so much for this opportunity to be here, as a guest of APEC TEL and of this meeting. Thanks to the hosts and chairs, secretariat and to you all, ministers and delegates, for your time.

I am Paul Wilson, head of APNIC the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre. We are the regional IP address registry for the region and our vision is of an open, global stable and secure Internet that serves the entire Asia Pacific community. That sounds broad, and possibly similar to TEL’s own vision. But at APNIC we know that IP addresses and their management are critical to all of these attributes of an ideal Internet, and that we have a unique contribution in that regard.

I am really inspired to be here in fact, listening to the remarks of Alan Bollard, and of TEL Chair Sulyna earlier today, followed by many of you. The success of the Internet is clear to us all, to the extent I think that we take it for granted these days.

If you doubt that, then just count the number of times you heard the word ‘Internet’ today, compared with ‘broadband’, ‘mobile’, ‘ICTs’, ‘networks’, ‘communications’, etc. – all of which imply and rely on the Internet today.

Thing is, there was a vision behind the Internet’s technical architecture, of a single global network, a simple network allowing point to point connection through a globally unique addressing system. The Internet model proved itself successful, and very specifically by enabling the lowest possible barriers to building and joining networks, and to creating innovative services and applications.

This early design of the Internet anticipated very many things about the technology; but not its success. Nor, in particular, its phenomenal growth. For example, the provision of four billion addresses was completely reasonable at the time when addresses were used for big computers, or “hosts”, which operated within institutions such as universities, each serving many, many people. It was unthinkable at that time that hosts would exist in homes, or in pockets, or cars, or kitchens, let alone all of the above, and so much more.

So, as we heard this morning, there are now more devices online than there are people on the planet and this was not expected.

There are, in fact, around twice as many devices connected as there are IPv4 addresses – or three-times according to AT&T. What that means is half of these devices are really not online at all – they are behind “translators” which allow individual addresses to be shared. That mechanism in itself is an example of innovation on the Internet, but it’s one that cannot continue. An Internet of 50 billion devices relying on four billion IPv4 addresses will be unmanageable; it will be inefficient, much harder to grow and secure. Barriers to entry will increase and innovation will be reduced; over time inestimable opportunities will be lost.

The exhaustion of IPv4 space was anticipated during the 1990’s and so IPv6 was developed – allowing an Internet of trillions of devices to still consume a small fraction of the space. Allowing the Internet to continue in its existing and demonstrably most successful form – as a single global point-to-point network, flexible enough to carry any service or application, to be adapted, and to be secured, as needed.

You’ve all heard about IPv6 – you have known for some years that it will be needed in future, and you have probably assumed it is happening. And you have been correct, until today. The fact today is that IPv6 is needed today, and also that it is able to be done today.

There are some mobile and broadband service providers who are deploying IPv6 today, in full production and with great success; there are vendors selling products, and users using IPv6 without even knowing it. Those networks and products and the services that run on them are working well; much better in fact than on the crowded IPv4 network.

By some measures, six per cent of Internet traffic is now being carried by IPv6, and what this means is that today for the first time there is an “early adopter” advantage for those who deploy IPv6 – who provide content, equipment and services that support IPv6. This is really critical to understand, as much of the APEC region has still not moved fast enough to embrace IPv6.

Unfortunately there are still many network deployments, including new mobile deployments, which are still relying on IPv4, and condemning users to a second class experience. Particularly as mobile broadband expands in the developing world, surpassing wired connections in providing last-mile broadband access; this investment strategy needs to change.

The fact is that any product and service deployed today without IPv6 represents a missed opportunity and a future cost.

And even if the mobile operator is dead, as we heard, the “phone” is not – and the numbers are inevitable – so even with the advent of “wifi first” or other next generation services this will not change the need for IPv6.

As I mentioned earlier, and as I think we can see throughout this meeting, we do take the Internet for granted in many ways. But right now we should not take it for granted, at least not until IPv6 is fully deployed and its benefits are in place.

As a guest of APECTEL, APNIC has had an opportunity to work with you develop an advanced plan for IPv6; including past ministerial declarations and the IPv6 Guidelines. We have appreciated your openness, and your commitment to IPv6 through leadership, collaboration with industry and shared experience. It is great to see a reiteration of the need for IPv6 in the new plan, and the call for implementation of the guidelines.

But on behalf of the Internet itself and of all who rely on it, I do ask for your help to continue this work, with energy and awareness, until the job is completed.

Then we can take for granted a future Internet which will be truly capable of meeting our greatest expectations.”


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