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How complicated is IPv6 for ISPs?

Anth

Top Member
What feels like barely any ISPs have IPv6 and when you ask them about it they say either that it is in development or it is in beta testing.

These beta testings seem to go on for an inordinate length of time. I asked Grain January 2023 and they said it is in beta testing. It is still now in the day before December 2023 in Beta testing.

Same applies to Yayzi, TalkTalk, Vodafone and a list of others too.

You'd think ISPs wouldn't hire students or something to implement IPv6 for them. They'd hire top networking gurus on significant amounts of money. And yet they seemingly cannot setup IPv6 on their networks.

Is it really that complicated for an ISP to setup?
 
Here's a starter for 10 then...

- Obviously needs to be supported end to end from customer NTE to their transit uplinks (and beyond).
- Might require some new equipment, and or software upgrades.
- Requires testing and implementation of network address management for IPv6 and name resolution, as well as other basic network services like time, email, if provided
- Requires additional testing to be developed not only for go live but also to support ongoing operational changes and upgrades which include a broad range of consumer electronics. Especially for resilience patterns which can now have more complicated failure scenarios.
- Logging and monitoring and the relevant dashboarding and alerting needs to be expanded to handle IPv6 across all network services. Including the awkward single stack failure scenarios.
- Requires upskilling for all technical staff including network operations and support.
- Update documentation and customer guides/self-help.

I am sure there are others....

Getting the techies to actually just enable dual stack on the core network is usually just the tip of the iceberg
 
I've been using IPv6 on the global network for over a decade now. First was IDNet, did a stint with A&A, moved to Cerberus for FoD. I haven't known an internet without v6 since 2012.

v6 should have been globally adopted years ago. It's just so much better than v4 in every way. There shouldn't be any v4 on the Internet by now imo.
 
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What feels like barely any ISPs have IPv6 and when you ask them about it they say either that it is in development or it is in beta testing.

These beta testings seem to go on for an inordinate length of time. I asked Grain January 2023 and they said it is in beta testing. It is still now in the day before December 2023 in Beta testing.

Same applies to Yayzi, TalkTalk, Vodafone and a list of others too.

You'd think ISPs wouldn't hire students or something to implement IPv6 for them. They'd hire top networking gurus on significant amounts of money. And yet they seemingly cannot setup IPv6 on their networks.

Is it really that complicated for an ISP to setup?
I have IPv6 from FACTO via City Fibre. There is nothing stopping any ISP using City Fibre's local and national networks combined from providing you with IPv6.

At my end of things, I have a router that supports IPv6 from WAN to LAN providing all my IPv6 ready devices with IPs for version 6. I disabled IPv4 on those. My router still supports devices that can't be set up for IPv6.

I'm still exploring, but anecdotally, I haven't noticed any advantages in terms of surfing speed. I take improved data security as read.

Here's a typical traceroute, to CloudFlare in this case.

Tracing route to 2606:4700::1111 over a maximum of 30 hops

1 <1 ms <1 ms <1 ms GT-AX11000-CBB0 [2a02:6da0:4b:a::1]
2 6 ms 7 ms 6 ms 2001:67c:248c:232::171
3 7 ms 6 ms 6 ms 2001:67c:248c:232::9:6
4 6 ms 6 ms 8 ms xe-0-1-7.edge0.hex.uk.cadence.net.uk [2001:67c:248c:232::9:4]
5 8 ms 8 ms 7 ms lonap.as13335.net [2001:7f8:17::3417:1]
6 7 ms 7 ms 7 ms 2400:cb00:376:3::
7 7 ms 7 ms 7 ms 2606:4700::1111
 
VM's xgspon network doesn't have it setup either =-/

the only error I ever see in the admin panel is this.

1701376938315.png
 
"How complicated is IPv6 for ISPs?" is a good question.

My suspicion is that it doubles or more the complexity of the network unless it was part of the initial build. Every customer has two connections to manage in system terms.

Any need to "hire top networking gurus on significant amounts of money" makes IPv6 implementation less attractive to ISPs.

With the implementation of CGNAT for the newer networks, until (unless) there is a widespread demand for IPv6 with customers I can't see a rush by ISPs to implement it.

Without an extremely obvious benefit to consumers (something highly desirable they can only do with IPv6) adoption will only come with system and equipment refresh cycles.
 
And whilst the techies among us will wince at this comment, but for an ISP that has enough public IPv4, the hard-nosed business case to justify the investment for IPv6 is a tricky one. Not only initial implementation but ongoing operational cost to support and maintain. And should they start to run out of IPv4 then deploying CGNAT to lower tier consumers who don't need a public IP is likely a cheaper path for them to sweat their IPv4 config rather than roll out IPv6. The business case for IPv6 is a lot easier to justify if you don't have plenty of IPv4.
 
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I'm with @Zaite450 on this one, although I will agree that most replies make sense in their own way.

For me it's simple, IPv4 shortage is holding back many things. If you're in tech and you respect yourself and your users then you have implemented it by now.

It's the case with the likes of A&A, Sky etc - they have plenty of IPv4, but ship both stacks.

It's been 20+ years since launch, it's not some novel, exotic technology, it is not complicated in the grand scheme. I can forgive it if you run a kebab shop, but if you are in tech and networking is your bread and butter and you don't have it by now it's either because you don't care or you are incompetent, in either case I won't be your customer.
 
With the implementation of CGNAT for the newer networks, until (unless) there is a widespread demand for IPv6 with customers I can't see a rush by ISPs to implement it.
CGNAT isn't really an alternative to IPv6: in fact, if you're behind CGNAT it's more important to have IPv6, since it's the only *real* end-to-end Internet connectivity you'll get.

But you're right, almost all users will notice no difference whether they have v6 or not, since all Internet content is either available on v4 or on v4+v6. No content of significance is on v6 only, and never(*) will be, since it's easy and cheap for content providers and CDNs to share IPv4 addresses between thousands of sites.

It's also true that the established ISPs with large pools of IPv4 address space have no pressure to deploy IPv6; and with their wafer-thin margins, the cheap providers like Talktalk and Vodafone will do anything to keep their offering as simple as possible from a support point of view. Having said that, BT and Sky have proved that a non-technical customer base can have IPv6 turned on without causing problems.

(*) "Never" meaning "until 99% of end-users have v6 connectivity", which is probably 20 years or more away. It's a similar situation to websites supporting IE5: it was painful and expensive for them to do so, but they did rather than risk losing customers, until less than 1% of users were on IE5.
 
"How complicated is IPv6 for ISPs?" is a good question.

My suspicion is that it doubles or more the complexity of the network unless it was part of the initial build. Every customer has two connections to manage in system terms.
Agreed. This will be true for most domestic customers.

I have to accommodate both systems via my AX11000. Although all our phones and Windows 10 and 11 devices can use IPv6 I have to leave IPv4 enabled because the Synology NAS I use as a media server is not able to connect via IPv6. Also our smart TVs and TV boxes are not IPv6 capable except for our Humax TV boxes which are connected via both systems. None of this will change until those devices end their lives and we can replace them with IPv6 capable devices at no extra cost.
 
It does seem like IPv6 adoption has been slower than expected. While it can be a complex process, it's surprising that major ISPs are taking so long. They should indeed have the resources to make it happen faster.
 
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Although all our phones and Windows 10 and 11 devices can use IPv6 I have to leave IPv4 enabled because the Synology NAS I use as a media server is not able to connect via IPv6.
Not to mention that the vast majority of sites on the Internet are only reachable via IPv4. This forces you either to do dual-stack, or use proxies, or use NAT64.

The NAT64 option is complicated by needing to force the clients to use it - either via DNS64 trickery, or by having clients which are aware of relatively new extensions to DHCP and router advertisements to make them use NAT64, as per this article.
 
I think there's quite a few practical issues that people might not always consider.
  • IPv6 can take considerably more CPU power to process on the provided router than IPv4, so could impact router costs (as it requires more cycles to process the bigger address), or could skew average speed figures.
  • The kit (routers/bngs/etc) in the ISP might have limited memory/fib/rib and suddenly having IPv6 routes to every customer as well as IPv4 might force them to have to upgrade their equipment sooner
  • Their backend systems might be too rigid to support IPv6
  • They'll have to establish all of their IPv4 peering sessions with everyone again for IPv6, if they don't then they may find IPv6 traffic will cost them more than IPv4 traffic
These are all practical observations from companies I've worked at in the past. I can appreciate (even if I don't agree with) why some ISPs have no appetite for IPv6, particularly if they have plenty of IPv4. However it's inexcusable to me that any alt net is deploying cgnat without native IPv6, as none of these problems should apply to an alt net as it's all modern equipment they (should) be running.

I did once have an interesting situation with Virgin though, I had FTTC from an ISP, and Virgin cable both going to the same router and I was getting an IPv6 gateway (but no prefix) from Virgin, and ended up in the odd situation where IPv6 traffic came in over the FTTC but out over Virgin :) (which shouldn't be possible, as Virgin should have been doing filtering)
 
It's not that hard at all - large ISPs with massive networks and significant deployment challenges have managed it, ie BT (and EE for mobile), Sky, and reportedly Vodafone, so why can't the alt nets with their brand new equipment, "clean sheet" network designs, and a lack of IPv4 addresses have it ready from day one?

On that latter point, it is utterly ridiculous to me that ISPs will happily install CGNAT (which is arguably more difficult and expensive than IPv6) but still insist that IPv6 is some brand new unjustified technology.
 
and reportedly Vodafone,

Unsure if this still rings true, but Vodafone used to basically be a bunch of networks they'd bought and built all hodge-podged together with hopes and dreams. Unless they've rip/replaced & moved off most of that clusterf- .. i mean mess - they'll have issues with IPv6 throughout.

so why can't the alt nets with their brand new equipment, "clean sheet" network designs, and a lack of IPv4 addresses have it ready from day one?
Depends. Speed of deployment. cost of equipment. cost of expertise during network design and implementation. lack of vendor relationships. lack of 24/7 support for when things do arise (like the vodafone issue above), or being at the mercy of whoever's network you're selling.

It's fine if you're vertically integrated (like netomnia/youfiber) but if you're just selling a product and that supplier doesn't support you in having IPv6 available then if things go wrong it might not put you in a good place. Usually management of businesses are risk averse and that would be a higher risk than necessary.

These beta testings seem to go on for an inordinate length of time. I asked Grain January 2023 and they said it is in beta testing. It is still now in the day before December 2023 in Beta testing.
Plusnet will likely hold this record, as they've been "testing" IPv6 for over 10 years.

If you're on a provider that only offers IPv4 and you really need IPv6 - you could use an IPv4 to 6 broker
 
Its likely a combination of ISPs only wanting to do the bare minimum to get online and caution for potential problems.

Obviously its possible given the likes of BT and Sky have managed it.

I have a little empathy for the existing big players as they have a stable network they risk breaking by rolling it out.

However all the new altnet's I have the opinion they should have rolled it as part of their network design from day 1, there is no excuse in my opinion, and since most of them heavily use CGNAT, the benefits of IPv6 on their networks are higher vs existing players who give each customer a routed IP.

In short I agree with @jcre who's post I have just read after posting this one.
 
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Depends. Speed of deployment. cost of equipment. cost of expertise during network design and implementation. lack of vendor relationships. lack of 24/7 support for when things do arise (like the vodafone issue above), or being at the mercy of whoever's network you're selling.

It's fine if you're vertically integrated (like netomnia/youfiber) but if you're just selling a product and that supplier doesn't support you in having IPv6 available then if things go wrong it might not put you in a good place. Usually management of businesses are risk averse and that would be a higher risk than necessary.
Still don't buy the excuses IMO. You can have as much support as you want to pay for, and if you're a brand new entrant you'll be receiving it on a range of topics anyway. IPv6 is just one of those things, it isn't some voodoo that needs special licensing or support over and beyond the rest. CGNAT on the other hand...

I'm not aware of any intermediates causing problems with IPv6 since the very early days of BT 21CN, where IPv6 was not officially supported for BT's ISP customers, and where A&A was the only ISP seriously attempting to use it. It should be easier still for the "alt nets" where they're presumably doing what Openreach does, where all their equipment amounts to a very long ethernet cable. They won't be doing any routing for their customers.
 
I think UNO has had 'IPv6 support coming' for a decade or more, still don't have it. I'd have gone back as a customer but I need IPv6 for working remotely and accessing IPv6 only systems.
 
I got laughed at on other IPv6 threads when I said that I had to turn off IPv6 both at Sky and BT routers to solve connectivity issues (Sky router wouldn't allow Samsung apps to work, just like Vodafone. BT router wouldn't allow Twitter site to load feed properly and Gmail apps would never completely load in browser). As soon as IPv6 was turned off at the router all started to work magically. Neither of my friends knew what IPv6 was nor needed to use it.

The IPv6 fans on this thread will always claim IPv6 is 20 years old and perfect. The truth is IPv6 implementations are of varied quality and tends to be full of bugs particularly on consumer equipment. Personally I rather not use something that's not ready for prime time. The fact it works for you in your own setup is not evidence it works in every other setup with every other website and equipment in the middle. The IPv6 cult also claims IPv6 is easy to setup yet there are countless threads on this site showing that IPv6 setup can be simple but can also be problematic depending on the ISP and equipment used.

For the average Joe IPv6 brings nothing but potential trouble. They are happy as they are since CGNAT is good enough for them. And to be honest having moved to Tailscale now I see no reason to need a public IPv4. In my case I prefer it as I know it's faster than CGNAT but from a security point of view, I rather not have anything listening on public ports.
 
I got laughed at on other IPv6 threads when I said that I had to turn off IPv6 both at Sky and BT routers to solve connectivity issues (Sky router wouldn't allow Samsung apps to work, just like Vodafone. BT router wouldn't allow Twitter site to load feed properly and Gmail apps would never completely load in browser). As soon as IPv6 was turned off at the router all started to work magically. Neither of my friends knew what IPv6 was nor needed to use it.
Because turning it off isn't a fix. It's a bodge. if everyone turns it off, rather than fixes the issue - no one will ever fix the route cause.

It's not about being a "fan" - its about every thread with IPv6 in you run in and do the "SHUT IT DOWN!" dance and expect that's the answer.

Companies need "power users" to be using it in anger, like all products it need testing.
 
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