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IPv6 to power 'city of the future'

IPv6 to power 'city of the future'

A Virginia city gets ready to launch an IPv6 network test bed.

The city of Harrisonburg, Virginia, will experience a wide variety of new Internet-based services such as mobile-phone commerce and clear Internet video with the roll-out of citywide IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6), people working with the city said Wednesday.

Harrisonburg, about 210 kilometers southwest of Washington, D.C., will become the first U.S. city to have a citywide IPv6 network in the third quarter of the year, said Mark Bayliss, director of the Harrisonburg Project and CEO of Visual Link, a Virginia ISP. Harrisonburg has branded itself the "city of the future" and hopes to become an IPv6 test bed where prospective users can see the power of the successor to IPv4, he said.

Harrisonburg has partnered with the local James Madison University on the project, and the university will use the network for delivering virtual learning services, added Christopher Harz, organizer of the U.S. IPv6 Summit in Reston, Virginia, where he and Bayliss spoke.

"Eventually, this will involve training, classrooms and education for a whole bunch of disciplines we haven't even thought of yet," Harz said.

Bayliss and Harz see many new applications that will be available first to Harrisonburg residents.

The way IPv6 connects computers will enable mobile commerce, with mobile phone users buying tickets for concerts or the train and downloading a bar code that can be displayed on the phone in lieu of carrying a paper ticket, Harz said.

In addition, IPv6's more efficient network routing will allow for the cost of providing Internet-based video services to drop by huge amounts, Bayliss added. Independent television stations, not needing to sign up with a cable or satellite operator, will spring up on IPv6 networks, he said.

IPv6, with nearly unlimited network address space, will also allow documents to have their own network address, creating a new field of authentication and Web-based notary services, Harz said.

Harrisonburg will also provide IPv6 for its emergency response agencies, including voice, data and map services, Bayliss said. Many emergency response agencies don't yet realize the potential of converged data, he said. The Harrisonburg Project, funded largely by Bayliss' company, could serve as a model.

"They don't know where to ask for it," he said. "They don't have a place where they can go to and test it."

The city plans to start demonstrating eight IPv6 products soon, Bayliss said. A test area for military and civilian applications is slated for the third quarter of this year.

"This is not our project, this is yours," Harz said to the IPv6 Summit audience. "How often have we heard, 'where can we go to see applications? Where can we go to test them?'"

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