Australia lags far behind major Asian nations in IPv6 adoption heading into this year’s World IPv6 Day on Wednesday, Internet Society of Australia president Narelle Clark told Computerworld. However, Internet Industry Association Director John Lindsay said he doesn’t see an immediate crisis for the country.
World IPv6 Day starts Wednesday at 12:01 GMT, or 9:01 EST, when participants will permanently switch on Internet Protocol version 6 support. “This time it is for real,” advertises the official website for the transition. IPv6 provides about 340 undecillion IP addresses, compared to 4 billion addresses under IPv4. Exhaustion of IPv4 addresses has necessitated the adoption of IPv6.
Australia is “still a long way behind somewhere like Singapore and China, and these are our major trading partners,” Clark said. “Even places like Azerbaijan have got better IPv6 take-up than Australia.” However, Clark cited progress in the past year and predicted “a lot more” content and ISP services this year available through IPv6, she said.
Lindsay downplayed the urgency of moving fully to IPv6 but agreed it’s necessary in the long term. “In Australia, we aren’t facing an IPv4 crisis at present, because our Internet market reached saturation before IPv4 spaces allocated to Australia ran out,” said Lindsay, who is also CTO of iiNet.
“We’re some years off from seeing [ISPs] provide an IPv6-only service, but that is coming,” Lindsay said. Businesses upgrading their network “would be crazy not to be putting IPv6 capable equipment in,” he said. “Do you need to drop everything and have your IT experts come in and enable IPv6 on your network today? No.”
Participants announced by ISOC earlier this year included just one Australian ISP: Internode, which is owned by iiNet. Other global providers named were AT&T, Comcast, Free Telecom, KDDI, Time Warner Cable and XS4ALL. Participating equipment makers include Cisco and D-Link; participating websites include Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft Bing.
“There are still not enough Australian organizations on there,” Clark said. Clark would still like to see greater adoption by major universities and newspapers, she said. Australian participation this year is better than last year’s event, but still on a “long slow burn,” Lindsay said.
Last year’s event was “really good” because trendsetting content providers like Facebook and Google embraced the effort, Clark said.
However, after last year’s event, “a number of big service providers said, ‘We really put in an awful lot of effort for a very small amount of traffic,’” she said. This year, there seems to be more confidence among businesses in making the transition, but companies are still “reticent about making big announcements,” she said. That’s been “a little disappointing for us,” she said.
This year’s event will be a success if there are no major disruptions, Clark said. There weren’t any last year, she said. Some users could see delays on the Internet, particularly people with older browsers and operating systems. If there are problems, it should be easy to resolve through patches or other updates.
The rate of Australian IPv6 adoption is on the rise, Clark said. “Our big three ISPs have made major advances” in the past year, though “they haven’t gone as far as I’d like them to.” But iiNet and Internode have been “ahead for a long time.”
However, Australia lags behind major Asian countries in IPv6 adoption. “If we want to do business over the next 10, 20 or 100 years we need to do it on equal footing,” Clark said.
Until DSL modems and other consumer gateways reliably support IPv6, “we’re not going to get the amount of take-up that we do need to see.” Content made exclusively for IPv6 should also drive demand for the new addressing system, Lindsay said.
One reason Australia has been slow to adopt IPv6 was its early adoption of the Internet and therefore the IPv4 address base, Clark said. “We still think we have plenty of IPv4 address base,” she said. But as users connect more and more devices to the Internet, including TVs and other home appliances, “we’re just going to need more addresses.”
Tight margins and other issues have made it more difficult for big service providers to make the transition, she said. “When you see an organisation like Optus who has gone through major staffing changes, we can understand that they would be more focused on making sure that things internally are working well at the staffing and business level than making major technology changes.”
Optus has started to make IPv6 business services available this year, she noted. Telstra late last year made a similar announcement, Clark said. “But I suspect at this stage we still may only see iiNet being the major ISP that makes consumer services available via IPv6.” Clark also hopes to see smaller providers make announcements, but no one will know for sure “until the day,” she said.
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