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EC Sets IPv6 Adoption Target of 25% by 2010

Posted: 27th May, 2008 By: MarkJ
The European Commission (EC) today set member states a target of getting 25% of European industry, public authorities and households to use IPv6 by 2010. IPv4 (e.g. 123.123.123.123), used since 1984, provides 4.3 billion addresses, of which only about 700 million or 16% remain free and available for new connections.

The new Internet protocol, IPv6, will make an almost unlimited amount of IP-addresses available and so support new applications using devices that are too numerous or costly for IPv4. This will make it much easier for home users to build their own private networks and connect them to the Internet:

"This is very much a case of a stitch in time saves nine", said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "In the short term, businesses and public authorities might be tempted to try to squeeze their needs into the strait jacket of the old system, but this would mean Europe is badly placed to take advantage of the latest internet technology, and could face a crisis when the old system runs out of addresses."

"IPv6 provides more addresses in cyberspace than there are grains of sand on the world's beaches. If Europeans are to use the latest internet devices such as smart tags in shops, factories and airports, intelligent heating and lighting systems that save energy, and in-car networks and navigation systems, then we already face a thousand-fold increase in demand for IP addresses. I call on Member States to make sure that public authorities and industry have IPv6 widely sown up by 2010."

Most new computers and servers being sold by major manufacturers are already IPv6 compatible, but are only reachable through their old IPv4 addresses. Europe's 'backbone' Internet network for research "GEANT" is already 100% IPv6 compatible and has led to Europe having the highest take-up of IPv6 addresses of any region in the world.

However, this improvement has yet to filter through to the public internet. Concerted action across Europe by all industry players is therefore required to ensure that IPv6 usage grows rapidly, with 'backbone' internet networks supporting both IPv4 and IPv6.

It will be interesting and indeed critically important to see how UK ISPs approach this problem. Those that choose to adopt a "wait and see approach" may be taking one risk too many with network integrity and performance.
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