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UK ISPs Lag Behind Europe in IPv6 Internet Address Standard Adoption

Saturday, May 5th, 2012 (8:32 am) - Score 1,182

The Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC), which handles the distribution and registering of numeric internet addresses for most of Europe’s broadband ISPs, has released a new table that shows the UK lagging behind the top 20 nations in terms of IPv6 adoption (just 17.3% of the country’s networks have been upgraded).

An Internet Protocol v4 (IPv4) address is assigned to your computer each time you go online (e.g. 85.23.56.198), which allows you to communicate with other computers, services and people around the world. Unfortunately IPv4 addresses have now almost completely run out and yet its replacement (IPv6), which has been around since 1996, still hasn’t been fully assimilated.

The worrying news comes just a month ahead of World IPv6 Launch Day (6th June 2012), which is the target that a mass of major network operators, router manufacturers and websites (e.g. Facebook, Google, Microsoft etc.) around the world have set for permanently enabling the IPv6 standard on their servers. At the time of writing the only UK ISP listed in support of the event itself was AAISP (Andrews & Arnold).

Top 20 IPv6 Nations by Network Readiness (BBC)
Norway – 49.3%
Netherlands – 43.8%
Malaysia – 37.1%
Japan – 32.5%
Sweden – 31.9%
Germany 30.9%
New Zealand – 29.7%
Belgium – 29.2%
Singapore – 29.1%
Ireland – 28.7%
Finland – 28%
Denmark – 27.7%
Austria – 27.3%
Switzerland – 26.7%
Portugal – 25.9%
France – 22.3%
Taiwan – 21.2%
Slovenia – 21.1%
Hong Kong 20.4%
South Africa – 20%

Crucially IPv4 and IPv6 are not “directly” compatible with each other, which is one of the reasons why adoption hasn’t been as easy as simply slotting in a bunch of new numbers. IPv6 addresses are significantly longer (128bits), written in hexadecimal / separated by colons, and more secure by design.

As a result ISPs have had to wait for network hardware and software developers to catch-up (even now there’s still a lack of consumer affordable IPv6 routers) and then any upgrade would naturally carry a cost; providers need to develop dual stack systems that allow IPv6 and IPv4 setups to run side-by-side.

Uptake of the IPv6 standard is clearly improving but we’re a long way from being ready, especially in the UK. In all likelihood RIPE NCC expects to issue its last “last /8 of IPv4 address space in the coming months“, which could cause problems for ISPs that don’t have plenty of spare IPv4 capacity like BT.

Providers that haven’t adopted IPv6, especially those that only have a tiny stock of IPv4’s, run the risk of being unable to connect new customers, at least not without resorting to problematic IP address sharing or other performance / security affecting methods. Some websites might eventually also become unreachable to IPv4-only connections

Meanwhile consumers should be able to just sit back and watch, at least for now; an IP address is merely a seamless part of their connection and ISPs will have little choice but to adopt a dual stack solution for many years to come. But eventually even consumers will need to buy IPv6 capable kit as IPv4’s will ultimately be phased (once they’re not needed, when everything is IPv6 ready, which could take a decade).

Leave a Comment
6 Responses
  1. Avatar FibreFred says:

    Ipv4 will be around more than a decade for sure. As more ISPs go ipv6 they can sell off their ipv4 ranges for a healthy profit and as they do the urgency disappears for others. We’ve been almost out of v4 addresses for a least 10yrs yet everyone still manages to get by 🙂

  2. Avatar Karen says:

    There are other ISP’s other that AAISP that do IPv6. It is just they don’t push it. Or perhaps they don’t think their traffic measured by an external company so don’t register it on the world IPv6 website.

    At work we use Easynet and have been using IPv6 with them for a few years. There are other ISP’s that offer IPv6 to businesses rather than consumers because of the lack of consumer routers (which is being sorted).

    Some ISP’s are planning on offering IPv6 soon. However, they have not made public comments as of yet.

    1. Avatar Julian says:

      Karen you are indeed quite correct, there are in fact many ISP’s providing IPv6 to UK clients both business and residential; some of whom have done so for over 10 years. I did bring to the attention of Mark Jackson this point, he replied stating his article refers to AAISP, being the only ISP to voice their support of IPv6 becoming the permanent standard!?

      I replied showing the error of his prose, I even provided a link to Trippnology, whom have posted an article on Facebook based on this misinformation stating to their followers & clients: “with only a single ISP currently providing IPv6 connectivity: AAISP”!

      Mark has since chosen not to reply to my reply … oh well, at least there are some of us in the know 🙂

    2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I told you that the context of that paragraph relates quite clearly and specifically to AAISP’s support specifically for the World IPv6 Launch Day event. You disagreed. I also changed “At the time of writing the only UK ISP listed in support was AAISP (Andrews & Arnold)” to say “At the time of writing the only UK ISP listed in support of the event itself was AAISP (Andrews & Arnold),” just in case it wasn’t already obvious.

    3. Avatar Julian says:

      Mark the only clearly obvious fact is you mislead all your readers into thinking AAISP are the only current providers of IPv6 to the UK; hence Karen’s response, my email to you pointing out the error of your ways and other companies actually posting elsewhere a continuation of your inaccuracy.

      If you had been polite enough to inform me of your article edit I would never have written my above reply.

      However, you changing the article now is a good thing and I am glad to see you have indeed seen the light else why would you have even need consider such an edit. Many thanks.

  3. Avatar DM says:

    i could use 6to4 before i had to get a router for a speed upgrade. i dont think my isp have any plans to update the router for ipv6

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