IPv6 should soon become the predominant transport protocol, demands the Networks Competence Group in the eco Association. An eco survey is trying to determine which obstacles are currently preventing companies from switching completely from IPv4 to IPv6. Leader of the eco Networks Competence Group Falk von Bornstaedt explains the background in a short interview.
Mr von Bornstaedt, why is the changeover from IPv4 to IPv6 necessary?
The Internet has grown much faster than predicted in 1980, and for many years the address space has been insufficient. IPv6 increases the address space from 4.3 billion (4.3 x 109) to the unimaginable number of 340 sextillion (3.4 x 1038). The ongoing transition phase is characterised by the fact that many systems can handle both IPv4 and IPv6. This dual approach only makes sense for a transitional period; in the long term, it ties up unnecessary resources at the operators and the networks.
Why does the changeover take so long?
That is one of the questions we would like to clarify with our survey. The changeover involves costs that are being postponed as long as possible. For example, Internet service providers in Germany fear high call-center costs in the changeover if things go wrong somewhere. IPv6 still receives far too little attention in professional and academic training.
Today, the Internet is used to a large extent for video distribution. The transitional solution Network Address Translation (NAT) can be employed quite well. As long as many systems do not yet master IPv6, both systems must be run in parallel.
How do you plan to help the Internet industry make the transition?
We don’t intend to denounce anyone, but rather to highlight those who are already successfully using IPv6. T-Mobile US, for example, has been using IPv6 almost exclusively for a decade – and without any problems. By the time mobile communications expanded, IPv4 addresses were already in short supply, so this division is already largely IPv6-capable. In the Networks Competence Group, we exchange ideas on successful strategies for the transition from IPv4 to IPv6.
How long will IPv4 be around?
IPv4 will be around for a long time. There are machines with hard-coded IPv4 addresses where conversion is impossible. However, we must succeed in making IPv6 the predominant transport protocol to replace the dependence on IPv4.
It will speed up the transition if we agree on a cut-off date from which IPv4 is declared a special case. However, under no circumstances do we want to jeopardise global accessibility.
Mr von Bornstaedt, thank you very much for the interview!