The current state of IPv6 in Australia

Original image credit: Sales image The impending IPv4 exhaustion is predicted to occur some time in 2011, so how is Australia positioned to cope ? To begin, most routers...

IPv6 Australia

Original image credit: Sales image

The impending IPv4 exhaustion is predicted to occur some time in 2011, so how is Australia positioned to cope ? To begin, most routers currently on the market do NOT support IPv6.. a critical piece in the puzzle. The good news is that some routers can become IPv6 capable with a simply firmware upgrade. Problem is, while the tech-savy amongst us are more than capable, our parents won’t be. Out of current routers on the market, almost none support IPv6, this needs to change.

Last night I updated my Billion 7800N router to a new beta firmware, 1.06b which added IPv6 support. If you happen to own the same router and are game, you can download it from Billion’s support forums. To check if there’s an updated firmware available for your router, just head to the support area for your manufacturer. Check the version notes for references to IPv6 support. Make sure you also read how to enable IPv6 connections. Armed with the new capability, the next question is does your ISP support it ?

After some research, the answer will likely disappoint you. Unfortunately it seems most ISPs are not moving on this issue. If they’re waiting for consumer demand, they’ll be waiting a long time, most of the public don’t need or want to know about the problem.

Given the ISPs are the ones dealing out IP addresses to customers, you’d think they would be more proactive about this issue. Sure they’ve already purchased big blocks of IP ranges to dynamically assign to customers, but if they want to expand their customer bases in the future, they will need new addresses.

Australian ISPs supporting IPv6 today (this will be updated over time).

  • Internode – without a doubt leading the way. They have a full IPv6 trial running which allows customers to connect via IPv6 and have done for more than a year now.
  • iiNet: On its way.. 
  • Telstra/Bigpond: No
  • Optus: No
  • Westnet: No
  • TPG: No

You can see the progress being made world-wide on this issue by visiting Sixxs.net.

Government mandate
In a Telstra whitepaper from July 2009, titled ‘Transition: IPv4 to IPv6’, AGIMO (Australian Government Information Management Office) lists a number of Government mandated requirements for the adoption of IPv6 within the Australian Government and its departments:

  • Preparation Jan 2008-Dec 2009
  • Transition Jan 2010-Dec 2012
  • Implementation Jan 2013-Dec 2015

The Australian Department of Defence has also mandated a move to IPv6 to becompleted by the end of 2013.

Internode customers
If your lucky enough to be with a forward thinking ISP,  a great way to test if your new IPv6 connection is working correctly is to visit http://ipv6.google.com. Another test you should run is http://speedtest.net both on IPv4 and IPv6 to see if it makes any difference to ping or connection speeds.

Internally on your LAN older devices should still work fine thanks to IPv6 to v4 translation. One key difference with future devices is they may be IPv6 compatible which means they would be capable of receiving their very own IP address direct from your ISP.

Turning back the clock a little, there’s actually a really long history of IPv6 dating back two decades. So lets take a look at some other important events along the way

IPv6 timeline

Its amazing just how under prepared we are for the transition to IPv6 and while the IP4 exhaustion wont mean consumers can’t connect, it will effect potential new customers. One aspect that hasn’t been discussed is the black market that may emerge in those owners of large unused IPv4 addresses try to scalp them. Buying these should be strongly discouraged, its a short term band-aid solution that’s surely going to lead to a price spike.

If ISPs are serious about dealing with the issue, they’ll invest in IPv6 support and get trials happening before the end of 2011. While that’s in mention, router manufacturers should be filling shelves with dual stack IPv4 and 6 routers to future proof and make the transition seamless for end-users. The lifespan of a typical home router is many years, so natural attrition is going to be a very, very slow process. While most of us burn through computers every 2-3 years, things like monitors, speakers and routers, tend to be around for 5-7 years.

Will IPv6 run out ?
To give you an idea of just how future-proof IPv6 addresses are, I refer you to a post from Whirlpool forum member Pulse..

The ipv6 total address pool is (approximately)
300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Given the number of people on the earth at the moment (estimate about, what, 6.9 billion?) is only
4.34782609 × 10^28 IP addresses for each and every person presently on earth.

..that’s a lot ! So yeah its about as future-proof as you can get.

If you have any news on IPv6 rollouts from Australian ISPs, please leave a comment and this post will be updated.

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Misc

Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.
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