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Hints of IPv6 Trial as BT Broadband Customers Spot Unusual Activity

Friday, Jul 10th, 2015 (5:17 am) - Score 5,260

Some of BT’s residential broadband subscribers report that their connections have recently been assigned an IPv6 Internet address, which has caused a few to speculate that the ISP might soon be ready to begin full scale customer trials. But you might have to wait a little bit longer for that.

The curious situation began cropping up last week after a small number of BTInfinity (FTTC) subscribers started to notice that an Internet Protocol v6 (IPv6) address was suddenly being assigned to their connections, as well as the usual IPv4, and a quick test appeared to confirm the development.

ipv6 test on bt broadband

At present all of the major broadband ISPs still assign an IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4) address to your connection each time you go online, which looks a bit like this: 84.123.12.5 (yours will have a different number). It’s sort of like the Internet equivalent of a phone number, which helps your hardware and software to communicate with remote servers.

The problem is that IPv4 addresses are no longer being distributed and so the whole system will eventually need to be moved over to the new IPv6 standard (example: 2001:cdba::2257:9652), which requires ISPs to adopt an expensive dual-stack network so that both IPv4 and IPv6 can communicate as they’re not directly compatible. At present most of the big ISPs still have enough spare IPv4 address to keep them going for a few years, but those won’t last forever.

In keeping with this Sky Broadband recently began the process of updating their routers in order to support IPv6 (here), with customer trials likely to ramp up over the coming months. As such nobody would be surprised if BT followed suit, although the ISP has clarified that what some customers are reporting above is merely a temporary thing.

A BT Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

We are currently trialling IPv6 with a small group of BT employees, before moving on to trials with customers at a later stage. For some tests, we have to fully enable very small parts of the network for IPv6 for a limited period of time.

During this window of time, a very small number of customers who are not BT employees may get an IPv6 as well IPv4 address. They are not included in the trial and they should not notice any issues at all with their internet experience.

BT has a strategy to include IPv6 for all its customers in good time. At the moment customers can experience everything the internet can offer with IPv4.”

So if for a brief moment you notice that your BT broadband connection is suddenly IPv6 capable then enjoy the novelty while you can because it will probably vanish in the future. BT’s latest kit does support IPv6 and so it’s really just a matter of the ISP deciding when to begin its trials. At the very least this confirms that they’re still preparing for it.

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Mark-Jackson
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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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