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UK ISP Sky Broadband Officially “Completes” the Roll-Out of IPv6

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016 (8:46 am) - Score 5,326
sky broadband uk

Last year Sky Broadband became the first of the major ISPs in the United Kingdom to begin a wide-scale roll-out of the Internet Protocol v6 (IPv6) addressing standard and today they’ve confirmed that their work is “almost completed“, with over 90% of their broadband customers being IPv6 enabled.

The title of Sky’s announcement actually uses the word “completes“, although the reason why some customers are still on IPv4-only connections is because a small proportion of legacy subscribers will still be connected using much older or unsupported third-party routers. Never the less Sky’s network should now be more or less entirely IPv6 capable.

Sky’s Current IPv6 Status
· By the end of 2016 all eligible customers will be IPv6 enabled, raising the total to 95% of all Sky Broadband customers.

· 95% of Sky’s routers and services are IPv6 compliant; with the exception of:

– customers using their own router which may not be compliant.

– customers on the Sky Connect product.

– customers using some older Sky routers, which are not compliant.

· The IPv6 connectivity is provided alongside the existing IPv4 based connection using a technique known as dual stack. Each customer is provided with a /56 prefix, that can support up to 256 networks within the home. The Sky router software also supports a stateful IPv6 firewall.

Sky has pulled off an impressive achievement in getting 90% of their 6 million or so broadband subscribers hooked-up via a new dual-stack IPv4 and IPv6 network, which is something that their similarly big rivals at BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk have yet to achieve (BT are set to follow suit). Until today only smaller ISPs, like AAISP and a fair few others, had fully adopted IPv6.

Mohamed Hammady, Sky’s Chief Technical Officer, said:

“Technical leadership is part of Sky’s DNA. We were the first carrier in the UK to introduce 100Gb/s fibre optic technology for our core network, and the first European adopter of Cisco’s latest carrier grade routers, the NCS6000 series, bringing 8Tb/s technology to our super-core.

And now, we’re enabling the network to IPv6, future-proofing millions of customers’ broadband connections. All these developments help us to support customers’ huge demand for viewing TV on multiple devices and demonstrate Sky’s commitment to giving customers the best broadband experience.”

So, why does any of this matter to you, the user? Well strictly speaking the move to IPv6, if done correctly, should be seamless but it’s important to understand the context of all this. At present most of the other big ISPs still assign a traditional IPv4 address to connections each time you go online, which looks a bit like this: 84.127.12.5 (yours will have a different number).

An IPv4 address is the Internet equivalent of a phone number, which helps your hardware and software to communicate with remote servers, although strictly speaking it’s not “personal” to you because an IP can reflect many different users or devices connected via a single broadband line.

The problem is that new IPv4 addresses are no longer being distributed (they ran out awhile back) and so the whole system will eventually need to be moved over to the new IPv6 standard (example address: 2001:cdba::2257:9652), which are significantly longer and shouldn’t run out any time soon.. if ever (famous last words). Without this some ISPs and systems may eventually struggle to add new connections, so it’s an upgrade of necessity.

However IPv4 and IPv6 can’t communicate directly and so they require a dual-stack network to bridge the gap and run side-by-side, which is likely to be necessary for many more years to come until everything is IPv6 enabled and then we can finally start to move on from IPv4. At present most of the big ISPs still have a good deal of spare IPv4 capacity, but that won’t last forever and so big ISPs like Sky are now making the move.

Leave a Comment
2 Responses
  1. Avatar chris

    whoopee, with a /56 we all get a whooping 256 subnets to play about with at home.

    Don’t forget the last 64 bits is host identifier, despite its myriad of permutations is not really suitable for subnetting.

    http://www.gestioip.net/cgi-bin/subnet_calculator.cgi

  2. Avatar Optimist

    At last the ISPs are getting their act together. I wish the same could be said for content providers – having checked via http://whatismyipaddress.com/hostname-ip, I have yet to find one UK site in my bookmarks with an IPv6 address. Not the media, not financial institutions, not government.

    Google and Yahoo, that’s about it.

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