For years, Internet and telecom leaders have expressed impatience at the slow adoption of IPv6, the next generation of Internet protocol addresses. Just in the past few weeks, the topic has been raised at both the APRICOT conference and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where “Father of the Internet” Vinton Cerf highlighted the steady exhaustion of available IPv4 addresses and the transformative capabilities of IPv6.
Although IPv6 has been the “next big thing” for over 20 years, there has been a notable lack of real-world adoption of IPv6 addresses. In fact, it is becoming increasingly clear that IPv4 will continue to be an important part of the Internet infrastructure for years to come as the adoption of IPv6 lags behind. As a result, regulators urgently need to recognize the unfairness of the market that currently surrounds IPv4 and take action to redress it, as well as provide the support and impetus needed to accelerate the transition to IPv6.
IPv6 is the infrastructure of the future
The existing IPv4 system is based on a 32-bit addressing scheme that allows the handling of almost 4.3 billion IP addresses. At the time of its inception, this number was considered so large as to be almost infinite, but the exploding world population, the increasingly connected nature of the planet, the proliferation of mobile devices, and the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) have meant supply is enough now no longer enough to cover the current demand.
Fortunately, the tech community has long been aware of IPv4’s limitations, and back in 1998 the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) developed IPv6. By moving to a 128-bit addressing system, the new technology is capable of supporting 340 quintillion (or 340 trillion trillion trillion) IP addresses, which should satisfy global demand for the foreseeable future. In addition to increased capacity, IPv6 also offers impressive performance, efficiency, and security benefits compared to its predecessor.
But despite this obvious selling points, the inclusion of the new protocol was laborious and lengthy. Currently, three of the five global regions have only 50% IPv6 membership (or thereabouts), with IoT device and other personal computing vendors being particularly slow to respond. Aussie Broadband network engineer John Alexander took exception to this lethargy at the recent Apricot conference, pointing out that while his company was almost ready to go 100% IPv6, it was held back because much hardware wasn’t yet compatible with the new technology.
IPv4 still matters
For this reason, IPv4 continues to play a crucial role. As Cerf noted at Mobile World Congress, the dual-stack capability of IPv4 and IPv6 infrastructure is the way forward, with the latter providing ample room for the online community to continue to expand and the former providing a supportive safety net for those who are not yet able to transfer .
Of course, the dwindling number of IPv4 addresses is certainly a cause for concern and has changed the way those addresses are managed. While the world’s five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) were originally established to allocate and monitor IPv4 addresses, the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses from the central free pool has rendered the RIRs’ role as distributors obsolete.
Unfortunately, RIRs have strongly opposed a free market approach to IPv4 distribution. For example, the regional registries have placed barriers to leasing IPv4 addresses, although leasing is often the only viable option for SMEs to obtain the IPv4 addresses they need due to general scarcity and stockpiling by large corporations.
Regulatory intervention may be required
For the IPv4 market to function efficiently and fairly, as argued by IP solution provider LARUS in a recent white paper, RIRs must not be allowed to exercise ultimate authority over IP ownership. Recognizing the ownership value of IPv4 assets is critical to the smooth functioning of IPv4 address trading, but given the intransigence of RIRs, national and international authorities may need to step in to make the IP market a fairer and more just place to do business do.
Of course, solving the problems of the IPv4 market should not preclude a continued and accelerated transition to IPv6. While enterprises hesitate to adopt IPv6, the task of accelerating the IPv6 transition may soon fall to government agencies as well. For example, the European Commission has not ruled out the introduction of regulatory measures in the event of unsatisfactory progress, and the US federal government issued corresponding memos as early as 2005.
Given that the Internet is such an important resource, having become an integral part of so many of our daily actions, transactions and interactions, it falls to industry regulators to make the IPv4 marketplace less obstructive and more accessible to all, without losing sight of the need to facilitate the transition to IPv6 through more comprehensive support mechanisms. The interconnectivity of our connected planet can only depend on it.
https://techround.co.uk/business/authorities-corporate-imminency-ip-issues/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=authorities-corporate-imminency-ip-issues Authorities and corporate IT must be careful: IP problems