Trends and challenges from IGF2016 IPv6 Best Practice Document

By on 23 Feb 2017

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By Izumi Okutani, Sumon A. Sabir and Wim Degezelle

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) has just released its most recent IPv6 Best Practice Document, focused on the economic incentives and commercial drivers behind the decision to adopt IPv6.

Download Understanding the commercial and economic incentives behind a successful IPv6 deployment

The document was developed through online discussions and contributions from volunteers from the RIR community via a dedicated mailing list, as well as regular calls and meetings conducted by the Best Practice Forum prior to and during the 2016 IGF meeting, held last December 2016 in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Below are some key takeaways to consider:

General Trend of IPv6 usage

IPv6 usage, as per Google’s measurements, grew from 10 to 15% in 2016. This figure is expected to increase to 20% by the end of 2017 and around 35% by the end of 2019.

There were several notable IPv6 developments in 2016 that led to this increase:

  • Apple announced that from 1 June 2016, all apps submitted to the App Store must support IPv6-only networking. One of the reasons for this requirement was the decision by a major mobile operator in the US to cut off all IPv4 underlying connectivity on Apple iPhones.
  • The Internet Architecture Board announced that the IETF will stop requiring IPv4 compatibility new or extended protocols. This means vendors do not need to support IPv4 in future protocols developed by the IETF, to comply with the IETF standards.
  • Recent versions of both Windows and Mac Operating Systems, as well as major Cloud/ Content Delivery Network (CDN) providers such as Akamai and Cloudflare, all support IPv6. This is expected to translate to a substantial volume of IPv6 traffic when ISPs turn on IPv6 by default.
  • Several banks and financial institutions have adopted IPv6, such as Banrisul, Banco do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul, Rabobank and Wellsfargo.
  • Sony’s corporate network is now running on IPv6. It also provides commercial TV which can be connected with IPv6.

Motivations for deploying IPv6

When looking at rates of IPv6 deployment, in the past year there has been rapid growth in IPv6 traffic among some mobile operators, with over 70% traffic observed over IPv6 for T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless in the US, and Reliance Jio in India.

According to a calculation done by Geoff Huston, the 30 largest ISPs serviced 42% of the entire Internet user population. If large providers deploy IPv6, the global deployment rate goes up visibly – at the time of writing it was 20%.

Over 20 case studies collected from different regions by the Best Practices Forum showed the following key motivations behind IPv6 deployment:

  1. Declining availability and rising cost of IPv4 addresses/need to accommodate significant customer base growth
  2. Corporate image of being prepared for up-to-date technology/environment
  3. Migrating to IPv6 without further IPv4 growth is a more cost-effective solution
  4. Business opportunity

Common challenges

The case studies collected by the BPF not only showcase successful deployment but also identify challenges.

The main challenge in the decision-making process is the difficulty defining a clear business case for the deployment of IPv6 with, for example, the generation of additional income within a certain period. The deployment itself takes time and planning. The complete network infrastructure needs to be made IPv6-capable and the technical team can come across specific issues and bugs.

There is a clear call for more vendor support for IPv6, particularly for security features and functionality. Training for technical staff is indispensable and will avoid problems and misconfigurations. It can be more challenging for small companies and providers with a limited technical staff to organize sufficient training to deploy an IPv6 network.

For ISPs with many customers, replacing all the CPEs in customer premises is a time-intensive and costly process. It is more cost efficient to spread the deployment over a longer period and include IPv6 in the regular or planned maintenance or upgrade cycle.

Equipment bought by customers might create its own challenge, as most customers are not aware of the difference between IPv4 and IPv6 and whether their equipment is IPv6-ready. It is important that customers choose IPv6-enabled equipment to avoid costs and issues later. If an ISP only offers IPv6 upon request or as an opt-in option, it will slow down the speed of the deployment.

Although major cloud services and CDNs provide IPv6 by default, there is a lack of local IPv6-capable content – in October 2016, only 5.8% of the Alexa top one million websites was IPv6-ready, and 22% of the Top Alexa 1,000 websites.

In developing countries, challenges such as bandwidth limitations or the use of IPv4-only second-hand equipment are a serious hindrance.

Takeaways for Policy Makers, Business Decision Makers, Vendors and ISPs

Be sure to check out the takeaways (Section 7) for policy makers, business decision makers, vendors and service providers in the Best Practice Document and as summarised in our post over on RIPE Labs Blog.

Take these action yourself and reach out to other stakeholders within your economy, on what they can do.

Thanks to the RIR community

We would like to thank the members of the RIR community. Many have made substantive contributions to the content of the document, both online, during the calls and at face-to-face interviews. The list of contributors is listed in our output document, with several names many of you may recognize. Special thanks to Aaron Hughes and Marco Hogewoning, who have planned the BPF activity together with us, and have served as the core contributors.

Izumi and Sumon served as members of the 2016 Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) of the IGF and coordinated the work of the Best Practice Forum on IPv6.

Wim Degezelle, served as a consultant with the IGF secretariat to support the work of the BPF on IPv6 and act as pen-holder.

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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.

One Comment

  1. Chris Augustine

    I think right now you have a standoff between say the Netflixes and Tivos against the major ISPs. IPv6 will cost, with the loss of net neutrality, and more finely optimized or de-optimized traffic. I don’t expect an answer or a solution from Netflix, Tivo, LG, Sony, et al, until things start to really break down by de-emphasis on IPv4 inter-protocol play. The content providers like to have people hide behind NATs and VPNs (and for flows to not be accountable). I suspect Comcast will hold content provider’s traffic hostage and exact a tax of sorts to guarantee 4K bandwidth. It will just be passed along. Comcast isn’t doing what it’s doing for altruistic reasons: channel power brings in the cash! It’s 2018; I never thought IPv6 would be implemented when I was at Cisco in 1999. Now 20 years later….. Manufacturing and sensitive/expensive shop floors will stay IPv4 behind NAT Gateways. That is how I see it in the peanut gallary…..

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