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6UK Scrapped After Failing to Encourage IPv6 Adoption Among UK ISPs

Friday, December 7th, 2012 (1:58 pm) - Score 1,306

The 6UK campaign, a not-for-profit membership organisation that was setup with support from Vinton Gray “Vint” Cerf (i.e. father of the internet) and others to help encourage UK ISP uptake of the IPv6 internet addressing standard, has announced that it is “powerless to encourage adoption” without more government support and will thus have to close.

An IP (Internet Protocol) address is assigned to your computer each time you go online (e.g., which acts as a unique online identifier that allows you to communicate with other computers around the world.

Unfortunately Europe and the UK effectively ran out of new IPv4 (current standard) addresses during September 2012 (here) and adoption of its replacement, IPv6, has continued to lag. You can read more about this problem here.

6UK Statement

The 6UK board has determined that the organisation cannot fulfil its purpose and therefore the directors, all volunteers, resigned at today’s AGM without seeking re-election. In the absence of nominations to the board, 6UK is to be wound up in accordance with its articles of association.

The UK lags its neighbours, economies of similar size, G20 and EU member states when it comes to uptake of the new Internet protocol, IPv6. This is of growing concern because the RIPE NCC (the Regional Internet Registry for Europe, the Middle East and parts of Central Asia) began to allocate its very last address space of the previous protocol, IPv4, in September this year.

Many factors impact the uptake of IPv6 and clearly free-market incentives are insufficient. Yet at a country level, delayed adoption significantly impacts national competitiveness, innovation and skills deleteriously. It may also hobble UK based companies facility to compete internationally.

From observing global IPv6 adoption patterns in recent times, one factor appears to dominate IPv6 adoption rates, namely government support. Countries with hands-off governments fall behind.”

It’s worth noting that 6UK was established with seed funding of £20k from the government’s own Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and had also gained the support of several ISPs and related organisations including Easynet, AAISP, Redstone, Timico, Fluidata, LINX, Ja.net and others. But despite the group’s best efforts many ISPs, not to mention hardware and software manufacturers, have continued to stick with their old IPv4 setups.

Sadly IPv6 and IPv4 are not directly compatible, which means that internet providers have to install dual-stack networks that allow the two to communicate. Related systems carry some cost and many ISPs have instead opted to continuing using their remaining pool of IPv4 addresses, although eventually even those will run out.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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22 Responses
  1. “Sadly IPv6 and IPv4 are not directly compatible”

    Which says it all really! If the muppets behind ipv6 had thought things through properly, we would all have migrated to it a long time ago.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Not really, whatever they did this was going to be a problem. It might be better to say “If the muppets behind ipv4” instead 🙂 .

    2. We will have to agree to differ on that one then. 🙂

      I still maintain it was pure arrogance/stupidity for them to create a new IP addressing scheme that was totally backwards incompatible with IPv4 and then to be amazed that the billions of Internet users/providers/equipment manufacturers out there did not wish to embrace it.

    3. dragoneast says:

      Doubtless they said the same when the motor car came along after the horse and cart; and the railways came along after the canals. Looking at our present mess, I suppose you can argue they were right. It’s so much easier for any business if it doesn’t have to change, isn’t it; and even better if you can blame the rest of the world and those stupid foreigners for your problems? It’s the one thing the English excel at.

  2. dragoneast says:

    It costs money to do things properly, something we in this country don’t want to know about. We’ll just have to make do whilst the rest of the world moves on. But why should those of us who have IPv6, or try to keep up with and understand any field of human endeavour really, worry about the mass of ignorami?

  3. Andrew Bower says:

    Very convenient for 6uk to try to blame the government but I’d like to know what 6uk had been doing for the last two and a half years? All their activity must have been behind the scenes because they published virtually no news on their website.

  4. Timeless says:

    strikes me that its not down to the fact they dont want to adopt IPv6 its more the fact that its going to cost.. now l have a theory as to why the take-up is low.

    my belief is ISPs in general are hoping they dont have to spend significant amounts of money upgrading and hoping the government will put some money in their pockets to do it. makes hell of allot more sense to me if you consider the fact it seems ISPs have done little to nothing to set themselves up for the future.

    1. Martin Pitt - Aquiss says:

      That’s wrong, most ISPs, including ourselves, have had network equipment that supports IPv6 for quite some time. The cost outlay has for the most part been paid for.

      From our point of view the big area of fault is the lack of CPE kit with v6 support. There is brand new kit coming out now which has no support for v6, which in our view is unacceptable.

      However, it’s customers who are not looking for it to drive it on. With other technologies people have been looking improvements….customers went out brought ADSL2+ kit because they saw is better than ADSL1. They went out and brought older modems because they could see 56k was better than 33.6k. However, they appears to be no drive to make out that v6 is better than v4. There is no push to entice what I call “The Jones’s Appeal”.

    2. I can only speak as a (very) small isp, and a rural (predominantly) wireless one at that. The equipment we use in our network has been IPv6 capable for years now. We have had zero (yes zero) demand for it from our customer base so far.

      The main reason I have not actually rolled it out yet is that I do not have a suitable test environment to make sure the roll out is sufficiently stable for customer use. This is due to cpanel, which we use for our web server management and configuration (as do millions of other web servers around the world), not supporting IPv6 yet.

    3. Mark Jackson says:

      In a consumer sense the issue of “customer demand” often crops up but is a poor argument because IPv6 is a necessity not a feature. It’s a seamless part of the internet, one that customers never have to see or know, and thus one that would not be demanded.

    4. It is not (yet) a necessity and can hardly be counted as seamless either.

      I appreciate what you mean about typical consumers. However, we have plenty of tech-savvy customers and not one of them has asked for IPv6 to play with – which I have to admit has surprised me. We have had our IPv6 block from RIPE for some time now, but it is just sitting there gathering dust at the moment.

      When cpanel sorts itself out and supports IPv6 I will start to experiment with it. Until then (unless/until a customer asks for it), we have plenty of other things to occupy our time.

  5. Stuart says:

    Wirelesspacman that is very correct re cpanel however it is coming in the next year from what I understand. I have not yet got a domain with SSL to work with IPv6

  6. Andrew Bower says:

    Listening to all these ISP excuses is depressing, particularly from the smaller ones: is there not a scintilla of curiosity among self-motivated staff to give the protocol a try? It’s no use blaming the CPE: there’s enough around for you to support trials at the least.

    1. Martin Pitt - Aquiss says:

      Don’t turn this on ISPs. We upgraded our kit 4 years ago and completed our trials over 3 years ago. We are also proactive on IPv6, which is clearly listed on our sales pages as being available.

      Can I say the same about CPE at the time. No! As I stated previously Andrew, there is brand new kit fresh to market that does not provide IPv6. Is that the ISPs fault?

  7. Andrew Bower says:

    Then you are not guilty, Martin! I agree the CPE manufacturers have been inexcusably slow and would not accept them blaming the ISPs either…

    I note a number of ISPs said they would be ready in 2012 (in 2010). They’ve only got three weeks left but have gone strangely quiet on the subject.

    1. FibreFred says:

      You can’t just lay the blame at the door of ISP’s , there are bigger fishes to fry. Take Microsoft and Xbox Live for example, the Xbox 360 does not support ipv6 so if your chosen ISP went ipv6 overnight its no more Xbox live for poor little jonny 🙁

    2. Bob2002 says:

      >if your chosen ISP went ipv6 overnight its no more Xbox live for poor little jonny

      Why would they choose IPv6 only over dual-stack?

    3. FibreFred says:

      Its not a real example obviously they wouldn’t change overnight. What I’m saying is some of the bigger applications and websites haven’t even gone ipv6 yet

  8. “Why would they choose IPv6 only over dual-stack?”

    IPv6 is necessary because there are no more IPv4 addresses left to hand out. Thus, dual-stack is not feasible in such cases – unless the IPv4 address is nat’d.

    1. FibreFred says:

      And if you do dual-stack how long for, 1, 3, 5 10yrs? How does the ISP see the benefit.

      It will have to happen that is for sure but I can understand the lack of incentive for ISP’s that have tons of ipv4 addresses in stock already

    2. Bob2002 says:

      The question was about a typical ISP switching solely to IPv6, which is not going to happen for quite some time I imagine. IPv4 addresses will still be used for many years.

      Why is a dual-stack not feasible, when IPv4 addresses are exhausted? Isn’t the whole point that it allows the applications to simply switch to IPv6(assuming they’ve been programmed to)?

    3. “Why is a dual-stack not feasible, when IPv4 addresses are exhausted?”

      The clue is in the word “dual” 🙂

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