Nº 5 2013 > Highlights from WPTF‑13 Opinions
Capacity building for IPv6 deployment
What is the urgency about IPv6?
Every device connected to the Internet needs a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address to communicate with other devices. The two versions of IP in use today are Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) and Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6). Introduced in 1983, IPv4 is the most used communication protocol today and has a 4.3 billion-address space.
As with IPv4, the IPv6 address space is managed globally by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), and by the following five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), each in their designated regions:
- AFRINIC — the African Network Information Center.
- APNIC — serves the Asia-Pacific region.
- ARIN — the American Registry for Internet Numbers.
- LACNIC — Latin American and Caribbean Internet Registry.
- RIPE NCC — Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre serving Europe, the Middle East and parts of Central Asia.
IANA allocated the last IPv4 blocks in February 2011 to the RIRs, which have put in place measures to manage these remaining blocks. APNIC and RIPE NCC exhausted their regional free IPv4 pools in April 2011 and September 2012, respectively. The exhaustion of free IPv4 pools in North America, Africa and Latin America is predicted to occur between 2014 and 2017.
Future growth of the Internet will require IPv6, with its extremely large address space — it exceeds 340 trillion, trillion, trillion (or 340 undecillion addresses). To give a more tangible idea of the scale, some have compared the number of available IPv6 addresses to the number of grains of sand on the planet.
Migration to IPv6 is gaining speed, and many prominent international web-based businesses have already implemented IPv6 portals. Nevertheless, the proportion of IPv6 traffic on the Internet remains small. As of March 2013, fewer than 16 per cent of all networks that make up the Internet were IPv6-enabled.
IPv6 address allocation and deployment is an important matter for ITU Member States and Sector Members. ITU has taken action, in various forums, to encourage capacity building for the deployment of IPv6. In 2010–2012, an ITU IPv6 group studied IPv6-related address policy issues and, at the request of developing countries, started an ITU IPv6 capacity-building project to facilitate human and infrastructure capacity development in the developing world, in cooperation with other partner organizations and stakeholders.
The Directors of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) and Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) have initiated a joint project to help developing countries. The two Directors have also established a website that provides information about global activities being undertaken by relevant entities in the Internet community, for example, RIRs, local Internet registries, operator groups, and the Internet Society (ISOC). RIRs have developed various programmes to create awareness as well as dedicated training focusing on the technical and managerial aspects of deploying IPv6 in IP networks.
WTPF‑13 Opinion 3
There could be no greater recognition of IPv6 as a critical factor in global telecommunications today than by the World Telecommunication and Information and Communication Technology Policy Forum (WTPF‑13), which was held in Geneva on 14–16 May 2013. Its Working Group 2 considered “Draft Opinion 3: Supporting Capacity Building for the deployment of IPv6” and “Draft Opinion 4: In Support of IPv6 Adoption and transition from IPv4”, along with contributions from Australia, the United States, Turkey, ISOC, and RIPE NCC.
Contributors expressed their overall support for these two Opinions, which they saw as urgently needed and critical to the sustainable future development of the Internet. The United States, RIPE NCC and ISOC supported these two Opinions as drafted by the WTPF‑13 Informal Experts Group. In particular, RIPE NCC considered that the two draft Opinions address different and distinct areas of concern and interest.
Recognizing the consensus achieved by the Informal Experts Group in preparing the drafts, Australia withdrew an earlier suggestion of merging the texts and supported the adoption of draft Opinions 3 and 4 as they stood.
Turkey presented a proposal to merge the drafts, while other speakers felt that the texts, although not perfect, represented a delicate compromise and should not be significantly amended. Time constraints made it advisable not to reopen debate on the texts and, in a spirit of compromise, Turkey agreed not to insist on merging the two Opinions. Working Group 2 thus agreed to keep Opinions 3 and 4 separate. It then endorsed Opinion 3 unaltered and submitted it to the plenary of the Forum, which also reached consensus making no change to the text.
Gist of Opinion 3
WTPF‑13 expressed the view that every effort should be made to encourage and facilitate the transition to IPv6. Member States and Sector Members should see to it that customer premises equipment, compatible with IPv6, is available and affordable as quickly as possible.
Member States are invited to promote, facilitate and support the fastest possible adoption and migration to IPv6 within their jurisdictions. And Sector Members with web and Internet business are invited to offer their services via IPv6 as quickly as possible.
As for matters regarding the depletion of the IPv4 address pool, they can be minimized by a properly planned transition to IPv6 — and every effort should be made to encourage and support this process.