If you only look at the raw statistics, the appetite for IPv6 deployment appears to be limited in Bangladesh – the current adoption rate is around 0.02%. However, after having attended the recent bdNOG5 and ION Conference in Dhaka, it’s clear that the statistics only reveal half the story, and there is a lot going on behind the scenes.
I asked participants and presenters from the last session of the bdNOG conference, which focused on IPv6 deployment in Bangladesh, to share their insights on how challenges are being overcome to increase IPv6 adoption in the economy.
- Abdul Awal (AA), leader of the data and transmission network team at BdREN, the National Research and Education Network of Bangladesh
- Sumon Ahmed Sabir (SAS), technical advisor for the Bangladesh Internet Exchange
- Fakrul Alam (FA), senior training officer for APNIC and founding member of bdNOG.
Tell us a bit about the history of IPv6 in Bangladesh and its current status today?
AA – Bangladesh received its first IPv6 prefix assignment from APNIC in June 2006. However, it was not until 2011 that the country’s first v6 prefix was announced in the global routing table, and 2012 when the first v6 traffic was seen.
One of the reasons for this delay was that both of Bangladesh’s transit providers at the time were not ready to offer v6 transit to the ISPs.
SAS – Although transit providers weren’t able to support IPv6, the Bangladesh Internet Exchange (BDIX) allowed its networks to test it. Although this didn’t have any commercial impact or produce any significant traffic, it was a great experience for those of us who were keen to try it and understand how it works.
FA – Although it was a slow start, all the major transit providers currently are in dual stack and provide IPv6 transit for their customers. Even a few major ISP’s core services like DNS, Mail, Web are IPv6 ready. So it’s no longer in a test bed stage and they are getting accustomed to running IPv6 services, which I think is a major improvement.
Who is currently deploying IPv6?
FA – As of 10 April 2016, APNIC had delegated nearly 150 IPv6 prefixes and more than 350 ASNs to different organizations in Bangladesh.
Of these 350 ASNs, Cisco Labs measurements show 112 have advertised IPv6 prefixes in the global routing table and of these 9 are actively using IPv6.
Hurricane Electric shows slightly different figures (14 ASNs out of 31 which are providing IPv6 transit). This is because they are offering tunnelling services and ISP’s are using HE’s IPv6 address block.
.bd ccTLD also deployed IPv6 for their DNS servers and are waiting for “AAAA Glue in the Root Zone”. This will be a major move for Bangladesh in terms of IPv6 deployment.
AA – From our research, we’ve found that:
- Three out of nine Telco and WiMAX operators are announcing v6 prefixes. Of these none are generating v6 traffic. Out of around 300 other ASNs (operators, service providers and enterprises) only 29 are announcing v6 prefixes.
- 69 websites, including international pages like google.com.bd, are IPv6 enabled. Only 8 websites in Alexa’s top 500 websites of Bangladesh are IPv6 enabled, most of which are reachable through CloudFlare and other third party service providers.
- BDIX is providing a dual stack service. There are 52 v6 prefixes in their network.
What are the challenges with deploying IPv6 and possible ways of overcoming these?
AA – For me, the main challenge of IPv6 deployment is mindset. Some organizations think that their v4 network works absolutely fine and they don’t need to use v6 yet. Others may find deploying v6 challenging, due to a lack of confidence. And some are just waiting to see how others will deploy it.
Besides mindset, there are technical challenges as well. Many organizations may need hardware and software upgrades, which involve new investments, combined with the need to up-skill personnel.
In terms of overcoming these challenges, I believe government and regulatory bodies can play a pivotal role in IPv6 deployment in the country. Imposing mandatory IPv6 features would accelerate the process. Besides this, the more people and organizations sharing their knowledge of and experience with IPv6 deployment, the better – success stories and encouragement can play catalytic role.
SAS – I too think the most significant challenge is mindset. “As long as IPv4 is working fine, why try something else which may break something?”
Once someone starts deploying IPv6 seriously, I believe the rest will follow. Hopefully that will happen soon.
FA – For most Network Engineers, IPv6 is “good to have”. Updating legacy hardware/software might delay IPv6 adoption but the major issue is there aren’t enough business cases and no major push to deploy it. However, things are changing. Management is becoming more aware about IPv4 exhaustion and the complexity of handling large scale NAT (CGNAT). As Sumon says, once we see some ISPs rolling out IPv6, others will follow, and hopefully soon.
What role does bdNOG play in IPv6 deployment and adoption in BD?
SAS – Though there is no significant development in terms of deployment, bdNOG has created a pool of IPv6 engineers who can help educate people about IPv6 deployment.
Another interesting achievement is that after every bdNOG we get calls from the government about what they can do for IPv6 deployment. This year was not an exception, with the government planning to prepare an IPv6 Deployment Roadmap, which they are seeking our help to develop.
FA – For initial adoption, knowledge and awareness is very important, and I think bdNOG plays a very vital role here. Bangladesh currently has a good pool of network engineers who are IPv6 aware and working on IPv6 deployment in there own organization.
bdNOG also gives these engineers a platform to know and connect with local and international “IPv6 gurus” whom they can contact if they face any issues or have any questions regarding IPv6 deployment.
The views expressed by the authors of this blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of APNIC. Please note a Code of Conduct applies to this blog.