Lessons from Macau: it pays to bet on IPv6

By on 27 Mar 2018

Category: Tech matters

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Many network providers around the world have delayed deploying IPv6, pointing to the cost to upgrade their routers and switches and the impressive feats that NATs have achieved to stretch IPv4 addresses.

This hasn’t stopped ISPs like Macau’s CTM from taking the plunge, in an effort to lead by example as well as to accommodate their end-user demand to access/control/monitor their growing number of devices.

CTM is the leading telecom service provider in Macau. Established in October 1981, it provides a full range of professional telecommunication services — including 4G+ mobile, fixed telephony, Internet and integrated telecom solutions — and has a fibre broadband network that covers 100% of the region and over 2,600 CTM WiFi hotspots across the territory.

CTM first started implementing its strategy to move towards IPv6 over 10 years ago.

“From 2005, we required all network equipment to support IPv6, so there was no need to upgrade or update the equipment when we launched IPv6,” says Angus Cheang, General Manager of CTM’s Internet Network.

The decision was made a lot easier in the following years when they made the company-wide decision to commit to deploying IPv6 by 2015.

“It took around five years, from the first discussion to the commercial launch in 2015,” says Angus.

“We involved the vendor in testing and developing the provisioning system to support IPv6. After the testing of the application and the connectivity of customer end devices to our network, we enabled dual-stack IPv6 connectivity to all fibre broadband users at the end of 2016.

“Without testing, we’d never have been able to identify potential problems and develop a solution for our customers. Every ISP must do full testing before launching any new service to its customers — no one likes customer complaints!”

But testing was not without its challenges.

“We found that not all home routers support IPv6, and some which said they do, have compatibility issues — different firmware versions will have different behaviours, and operation systems don’t always fully support IPv6 with PPPoE. But we overcame these and thankfully all this testing has meant there have been no major issues since we enabled IPv6 connectivity to our customers.”

Angus recognizes that there is still a long way to go in migrating all of their customers to IPv6 — they have already connected some of their fibre broadband customers and are currently in the process of deploying it on their mobile and Wi-Fi networks — but believes CTM’s customers will start to reap the rewards of their provider’s vision as IPv6 content and devices become the overwhelming majority.

“From the beginning, our objective was simply to provide stable IPv6 connectivity to our customers. The large amount of IPv6 address space available is more convenient for the end user to access, control and monitor their devices.

“We have no desire to promote the deployment for accolades. It is simply the right thing to do for our customers.”

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