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IPv4 Shortage Not As Sensational As It Sounds

The topic of Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) and the depletion of IPv4 addresses has been a popular one of late. As the media continues to sensationalise the imminent end of the IPv4 address supply, more and more people are wondering what their ISPs will do to combat the shortage.

For those who are unfamiliar with the pending transition, IPv6 is an updated version of the Internet Protocol (IP) which will move the world away from its dependence on IPv4 – a depleting resource. Internet Protocol is essentially our road to the internet in its current state, not the internet itself. You could compare it to when our phone numbers suddenly got longer to cope with the demand, only this time we had the foresight to create something that won’t require changing for a very long time, if ever.

In reality, the “shortage” isn’t so dramatic. iiNet has enough IPv4 addresses to see its customers into the foreseeable future. When the time comes, and IPv4 becomes a thing of the past, transition technology will be available to ensure no one’s Internet experience is affected in anyway.

In fact, by that point in time, it’s likely that most of the Internet will be native to IPv6 so we won’t really need transitional technology – but it’ll be there just in case. With a number of large websites/content providers pushing forward to get their content IPv6-ready by June 8 this year (World IPV6 Day), it is hoped the extra attention will result in increased interest from the greater internet community.

iiNet have been running a number of in-house trials using IPv6 with our systems. It is expected that these trials will be expanded to include selected portions of our customer base within the next few months. Meanwhile our supply of IPv4 addresses will last us for a while yet so we’ll be going ahead as planned with a dual-stack approach (customers will be assigned both an IPv4 and IPv6 address).

While the media are having a field day with the news, we’re doing our best to tell people not to panic – and we really mean it. You probably won’t even notice the change when it happens.

17 comments

  1. MidGe says:

    ” we’re doing our best to tell people not to panic”

    Ummm, well that maybe so, but nevertheless you stopped the ability of home accounts to have a fixed IP.

    Personally, as a customer, I was affected and that will be my reason to leave iiNet for another provider after many years as a very satisfied customer.

    The media ought to have a field day, because it is an issue!

  2. James Reynolds says:

    IPv6 is running out.

    But applauds to iiNet for going dual stack. It’s the best way to transition in my view.

  3. adros47 says:

    You misspelled ‘affected’.

  4. Chopper says:

    MidGe, most people reading this article either won’t know what a static IP is or wont care about having one at home. So don’t try and make iiNet look bad by bringing up a non-issue. IPv4 running out of address space is currently a non-issue that is being dealt with well ahead of time. Static IP addresses for home accounts is an entirely unrelated issue. Do you work for the government? if not, you should, they employ people like you.

  5. Adrian Love says:

    @MidGe: Yet here you are again!

  6. Matt Hutchinson says:

    Hi MidGe,

    Static IPs are still available on iiNet’s range of Business plans. There are a range of plans available, all of the details are available on the Business site (http://www.iinet.net.au/business/broadband/plans.html)

    If you scroll down a little you’ll see an ‘at a glance’ list of differences between the Residential & Business plans.

    Hope that helps.

    Regards,

    Matt

  7. Aud says:

    Well the whole Australian ISP industry seems to be doing this “don’t worry, nothing is wrong” thing, like it’ll be taken care of when the “time is right”. In reality it feels like it’s really “at the last moment”, in the whole timeline of IPv6.

    Does iiNet have a publicly available schedule for IPv6 deployment to their customers? That would make me a lot happier. (Phrases like “foreseeable future” are way too vague and don’t provide real answers.)

    • Nikkita Dixon says:

      Hi Aud,

      I’ve added some links if you’d like to read a bit more about the IPv6 transition. They’ve been working toward this since 1996 so it’s definitely not a last minute thing :).

      Kind regards,

      Nikkita

  8. Benn says:

    I’d be keen to be involved as a customer in the POC for IPv6 – I’m a security/network engineer myself.

    Keep me in the loop!

  9. eaadams says:

    Current ISP customers aren’t the issue, nor are forwarding looking Service Providers. However, less capable SPs and carriers who are slow to change and will therefore rely on 4-6 transition technologies long after their use-by-date will be the problem. So-called “Carrier Grade NAT”, really isn’t, and when eventually many IPv6 sessions try to access a few IPv4 addresses things will not be good for those stuck with those providers. Also, with increased connectivity with the NBN and the high growth in smaller mobile devices and objects, IPv6 is the only solution. Of course, all this should be transparent to the customer, so it’s not a customer issue, but it is a network implementation issue that should be addressed now.

  10. Kim Davies says:

    Nikkita, I hope you are not too serious that there has been 15 years of effort put into rolling out IPv6 at iiNet.

    One of the reasons for the “sensationalism” is that IPv4 exhaustion has indeed been foreseeable for over a decade, and most operators have for the most part sat on their hands. The only way to break through and get people’s attention has been to make noise regarding the last /8 allocations by IANA. It seems its finally starting to work and ISPs are starting to act.

  11. Adam says:

    There is alot more to enabling IPv6 than just flicking a switch. It includes having customer routers that support it, Operating systems that support it, ISP having allocations and providing addresses, transit & peering providers supporting it and then webhosts & DNS providing it.

    Most of the work up to now has been ensuring that the appropriate hardware and software used will support IPv6 generally via a software or firmware upgrade. Providing v6 addresses to end users is the last stage – no point having a v6 address if there is such a small amount of content available via it. Now we are at the stage that iiNet have performed all the required work and are testing it end to end with trial users and then providing allocations to all customers. Fair enough they are not at the stage Internode are at but compare them to Bigpond and I think you will find they are quite prepared for the transition.

  12. Ben Aylett says:

    Like Benn, I am a technical person and keen to assist with IPv6 trials. I am an IT consultant with experience dating back to the early 90’s and I am very keen to see IPv6 up and running ASAP so I can make sure my customers are ready long before the i-Pocalypse strikes.. 😉

  13. DavidC says:

    I went to an iiNet Business plan 2 years ago for amongst other things, a static IP address, so I could start using Exchange Server in a home lab.

    All my home equipment runs IPv6, even my Billion modem/router.

    Windows XP since about SP2 and Windows Vista upwards all use IPv6. The only real thing stopping most home users form going IPv6 is some of the cheaper modem/routers don’t currently support it and most manufacturers either won’t provide a firmware for it, meaning replacing the unit or are working on IPv6 firmware upgrades. So IPv4 to IPv6 for home users won’t be that big an issue.

  14. AWalden says:

    If you are looking for POC testers, I’d be interested. I’m using IPv6 compatible equipment (FritzBox 7390 on iiNET) and also work in the industry…would be pleased to assist!

  15. Aud says:

    Thanks Nikkita, though I don’t know if I’m looking in the wrong place or not, but I can’t seem to find anything specific to iiNet’s progress in the article links. I know that many engineers around the world have been working on everything to do with IPv6, but in the context of the Australian Internet industry, you hear very little about it.

  16. Matt Hutchinson says:

    Hi Aud,

    Compared to some providers elsewhere in the world; China, Japan, US etc, Australia could appear to be waiting until the last minute in terms of deploying IPv6. This however isn’t the case. It is no small undertaking rolling out IPv6 across national networks and I know here at iiNet it’s been worked on for quite some time.

    While you may not see the results yourself in terms of being assigned a v6 prefix or the like, there has been a significant amount of work undertaken behind the scenes to make sure everything will ‘just work’ when it is deployed. The most important part of any IPv6 deployment (for any provider) is to make sure that it doesn’t negatively impact the customer experience for existing services; there’s no point enabling IPv6 connectivity if the existing IPv4 internet stops working.

    Hopefully this answers some of your concerns.

    Regards,

    Matt Hutchinson

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