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Mobile Network Operator EE UK Sees Surge in IPv6 Deployment

Thursday, October 25th, 2018 (12:01 am) - Score 5,026
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The latest batch of IPv6 network operator measurements has revealed that take-up of the “new” internet protocol (IP) addressing standard has sky-rocketed on EE (AS12576) since September 2018, going from a deployment percentage of 10% to 28.05% over several short weeks.

At present many mobile operators and fixed line broadband ISPs still make use of the old IPv4 standard and often adopt a form of CGNAT (IP address sharing) in order to make those addresses last longer, which is partly because new IPv4s are no longer being distributed by the registry (they’ve run out). Without an IP address you wouldn’t be able to identify your connection online or use other internet services.

However EE and parent BT have both been busy deploying the replacement standard – IPv6 – at scale alongside their existing IPv4 network(s) since around 2016 (details). As a result it’s now estimated that IPv6 deployment has reached 45.64% of BT’s network and in the past month EE has also shot up to 28.05% (partly due to Apple’s iOS 12 update adding IPv6 to cellular data).

ee ipv6 deployment uk

The change is noteworthy because EE is both the largest mobile network operator in the United Kingdom (29.6 million customers) and they’re also the largest operator of 4G (Mobile Broadband) services in Europe. As a result of this change EE is now ranked 55th in the world for IPv6 deployment progress, which compares with BT at 21st.

Massimiliano Stucchi, IPv6 Manager at RIPE NCC, told ISPreview.co.uk:

“It’s encouraging to see progress being made in IPv6 adoption, especially in the UK market. Hopefully this will create some momentum and set the trend for other operators to follow suit. With nearly 25% of Google and Facebook users accessing these services over IPv6, there’s solid proof that IPv6 is here and its ready.

IPv4 address trading and Carrier Grade NAT might be valuable short-term strategies, but they cannot scale indefinitely. Organisations like major ISPs are well placed to help businesses to prepare for the future – IPv6 is the only way to safeguard the future growth of the Internet.”

Of course if we’re talking about IPv6 adoption among the major UK network operators then few can beat Sky (Sky Broadband) on 87.74% (8th position). Many others are still playing a slow game of catch-up (Virgin Media) or have yet to even start (TalkTalk, Vodafone etc.).

UPDATE 9:33am

Added a comment from RIPE NCC above.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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9 Responses
  1. Avatar Jack

    Surge is due to Apple releasing iOS 12 in September which finally enabled ipv6 on cellular date

  2. Avatar Paul W

    Vodafone broadband don’t even have it yet.

  3. Avatar Meadmodj

    It’s taken 30 years to get to this point and the issue is that significant investments over that period can’t utilise it.

  4. Avatar Mr Mal

    Don’t get too excited, it’s nat64

    • Avatar onomatapea

      I think we should get excited! DNS64/NAT64 is exactly the right way to do it and allows the telephones to be IPv6-only, while enabling those smartphones to reach IPv4-only services.

    • Avatar 1

      You also don’t need native IPv6 on your desktop to reach IPv6 only website, you just need IPv6 tunnel /s. Dual stack should be better than DNS64/NAT64. After 5 or 10 years, when IPv6 is more popular, just remove IPv4 and that’s it.

  5. Avatar David Burns

    I found last week that my EE 4G connection was only providing IPv6 and no dual-stacking, meaning that many websites that are v4 only were not accessible. It’s meritable that EE is progressing with IPv6 adoption but these stats are distorted by forcing customers into a corner. I know that many customers were reporting intermittent data last week as a fault and I imagine that it was actually lack of v4.

    • Avatar Roland

      Just checked my EE 4G connection: phone is IPv6 capable, yet EE is providing it with an IPv4 only service…

    • Avatar onomatapea

      You don’t need an IPv4 address on your device in order to reach an IPv4 website. You just need a translation mechanism on your network like DNS64/NAT64, which is exactly how T-Mobile provides its IPv6-only handsets access to IPv4-only services.

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