Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A glass half full

by Craig Miller

This month, the Internet Society (ISOC) reports that the four major mobile carriers in the US passed the milestone of  50% IPv6 traffic to Facebook. This sounds like great news, and it is.

But looking a little deeper yields more information.  Why the US Mobile Carriers? Why is this metric highlighting Facebook?

The good news

Where is there the greatest need for expanded IP addresses since ARIN ran out of IPv4 addresses last fall (2015)? The explosion of smartphones and LTE service in the US, has led to the rapid adoption of IPv6 by even the most conservative of carriers, like AT&T. The fact is that if you need more address space as an ISP (Mobile Carriers are just wireless ISPs), you must turn to IPv6. This is good news for IPv6 advocates.

And in Europe, Sky has recently enabled IPv6 achieving 80% of its customer-base now with IPv6. BT, hopes to follow in 2017.

Finally after waiting 20 years, serious IPv6 adoption is actually happening.

The less good news

Facebook is the metric for two reasons: it is a big content provider, and it is one of the few content providers which support native IPv6 connectivity. Unfortunately other content providers have not woken up and smelled the coffee, and remain stuck in the IPv4-only world.

Hopefully everyone enjoyed the recent Olympics in Rio, which seemed to be a success. Unfortunately, CBC in Canada has zero IPv6 presence on the web. Kudos to NBC in the US which setup a separate domain nbcolypics.com which does support IPv6. Unfortunately all that streaming of events north of the border, whether it be the 100 meter sprint, or waterpolo was all over IPv4.

The reality is that content providers see few business reasons to move to IPv6. After all there are transition technologies such as dual-stack or NAT64 which allow them (and many others, CBS, ABC, Twitter, Reddit) to continue serving IPv4-only content. Sadly, even some content providers still see IPv6 as an inferior transport.

Is it half full or half empty?

Like a glass of water that is half full, it is good news that  more than half of the mobile traffic is IPv6 capable, but the glass is is still  half empty when it comes to content providers supporting IPv6. It looks like us IPv6 advocates will have to wait a little longer for the content providers to move into the future of the internet.

* Glass courtesy of creative commons