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Virgin Media Invite 100 UK Staff to “Secret” Trial of IPv6 Internet Addresses

Thursday, Aug 17th, 2017 (7:58 am) - Score 3,308

Cable operator Virgin Media has sent out invites for 100 employees to join a “secret” trial of their long awaited Internet Protocol v6 (IPv6) network upgrade. Sources inform ISPreview.co.uk that accepted users will need to be connected to Virgin’s broadband service via a Hub 3.0 router.

At the end of 2016 the cable operator told us that they “plan to adopt IPv6 by the middle of 2017” (here), although when asking for an update in June of 2017 we were instead told that they now intended to “start the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 later this year in line with the wider adoption of IPv6 across the internet” (here).

We note that a tiny number of users on Virgin Media’s network are already connected via IPv6, although this is likely to be reflective of users on their internal network and development teams. The next step for Virgin Media would be to expand their existing test to a wider closed customer trial or the next best thing, employees who use Virgin Media at home.

Invites for the new “staff trial” appear to have gone out this week and participants are being asked to fill out an online survey by 12pm on Wednesday 23rd August. The trial itself will then commence from sometime in September 2017 and last for roughly 4 weeks. After that we’d expect them to either expand the staff trial or open it up to a closed group of ordinary customers.

Virgin Media’s invitation stresses in bold that the “new features are still secret!,” which perhaps comically overlooks that they’ve already announced their plans to the public.. twice. The message then wades into the territory of stating the obvious by adding that they “need to thoroughly test the protocol before we roll it out“.

We shouldn’t have to remind people about what IPv6 is, but here’s a little summary. Broadband providers assign a public Internet Protocol (IP) address to your connection each time you go online, which is like the internet equivalent of a phone number. Today most addresses still use the IPv4 standard but that has run out of spare numbers and so everybody is slowly adopting its replacement, IPv6.

For example, both Sky Broadband and BT are deploying dual-stack networks so that IPv4 and IPv6 addresses, which are not directly compatible, can work seamlessly side-by-side; at least until the day comes when IPv4 can finally be switched off (this isn’t likely to happen for a very long time because too much hardware and software remains IPv4 dependent).

The shift to IPv6 isn’t as urgent for larger providers because most still own a big pool of spare IPv4 addresses, although it is somewhat of an inevitable upgrade and the sooner it’s adopted the better. Most people won’t even notice the switch.

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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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