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Virgin Media Plans to Adopt IPv6 by the Middle of 2017

Saturday, Nov 5th, 2016 (1:41 am) - Score 12,048

Cable broadband operator Virgin Media has informed ISPreview.co.uk that they plan to adopt the Internet Protocol v6 (IPv6) standard by the middle of 2017.

Every Internet connection has an Internet Protocol (IP) address assigned to it (you couldn’t do much without one), but the current IPv4 standard has run out of spare addresses and so everybody is slowly adopting the replacement IPv6 standard (very slowly.. it’s been around since 1998).

Most ISPs tend to deploy dual-stack networks so that both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses, which are not directly compatible, can work side-by-side; at least until the day comes when IPv4 can be completely switched off (this isn’t likely to happen for a very long time as too much kit remains IPv4-only).

Recently we’ve seen both Sky Broadband and BT Consumer (Retail) move down the path to full IPv6 adoption. Now a spokesperson has confirmed to us that Virgin Media will be jumping on the IPv6 train by the middle of next year, although apparently their deployment will depend on the wider adoption of websites (we think this is a reference to the fact that most of the Internet traffic passing through VM is still from IPv4-only sites and servers).

Virgin offers the example of how Netflix can work with both IPv6 and IPv4, but iPlayer is said to be IPv4-only. The spokesperson said that at the moment only about 30% of traffic can be IPv6 and the rest needs to be translated to IPv4, thus they’re apparently managing the transition to align to the adoption across the Internet (our translation: “We’re late to the party, but then so are a lot of others“).

Virgin Media has previously told those who asked that most of their network was already prepared for IPv6, but they just hadn’t flicked the switch yet. A quick check of the United Kingdom’s AS-numbers (Autonomous System Number) for IPv6 usage (here) estimates that they have about 586 users on IPv6, which is perhaps a rough indication of where they stand today.

Mind you some ISPs, such as Andrews and Arnold (AAISP), have been using IPv6 in their network since 2002. The reason why it’s taken so long for everybody else is due to the slow pace of adding support to existing software / hardware and the fact that IPv4s only started to run out a few short years ago. Most of the big ISPs also have a large stockpile of IPv4s and so can hold out for longer.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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