Those Who Already Have IPv6 “Have a Head Start”

17/04/2013

The Latin American and Caribbean community is currently discussing new policies governing the allocation of IPv6 address space. IPv6 is the latest Internet protocol, and it is being deployed after a successful management plan for the region’s IPv4 address space, which is expected to run out in approximately eight months. Almost 55% of network operators and other organizations have already deployed IPv6 in the LACNIC region. According to Ricardo Patara, Resource Manager at NIC.br and Chair of LACNOG (the Latin American and Caribbean Network Operators Group), this means that considerable effort has been put into the matter, although much work is still needed.

Patara is optimistic for the future of the Internet and the new technology, and believes that the organizations that have yet to deploy IPv6 will do so soon so as to not find themselves at a disadvantage as compared to those who are already using the new protocol.

Talking to LACNIC News during the Fourth Network Operators Forum (LACNOG), Patara mentioned that the final moments before IPv4 exhaustion is a good time to speak to providers.

Our region enjoys an enviable, privileged position in terms of IPv4 resource management and, thanks to the work carried out by the Latin American community, has addresses (34 million) that will last for at least nine more months. In your opinion, which aspects of this process are worth highlighting?

First of all, I would like to highlight that this is not only a challenge but also an excellent opportunity. It’s a challenge because IPv4 address scarcity poses new challenges for the ongoing growth of networks, services and Internet users. In order for all of these to continue to grow, certain mechanisms will have to be implemented. There are already solutions in place that will allow this to happen, but the related costs may be high if no longer-term solutions are planned.

This is where we see an opportunity: the massive deployment of IPv6, iPv4’s successor, which brings with it many advantages, among which I would like to highlight the large number of possible addresses. Those who are prepared for, and currently deploying, the new protocol have the opportunity to gain a head start and build their networks with a view to stable long-term growth.

If the opportunity for planning IPv6 deployment is taken, the mechanisms I mentioned will only be needed for a short period of time. Users who know about the new protocol have an excellent advantage in terms of communication between equipment, services, and other users.

In addition, the new protocol allows a larger number of devices to have their own addresses, thus creating the “Internet of Things.”

At this time, more than half of Latin American and Caribbean network operators and other organizations have been assigned IPv6 addresses. Considering the imminent exhaustion of IPv4 resources, do you think this is enough? In your opinion, should there be even greater deployment? What is the key to massive IPv6 deployment?

It is still not enough, but it is definitely a major achievement. Other regions have implemented training and outreach efforts and IPv6-related policies and have achieved great results.

In order to keep the costs associated to IPv4 exhaustion at a minimum, we would expect an even greater deployment of IPv6.

However, at the same time, we have seen very valuable initiatives in our region tackling IPv6 “massification” for residential users. We have recently seen messages on LACNOG’s mailing list commenting on the growth of IPv6 traffic originating in Peruvian networks and reaching the major search engines. This made news worldwide, but we are already somewhat lagging behind other large European economies. In my opinion, these initiatives will contribute to the massive deployment of IPv6. Other providers will see this as an opportunity and will feel the need to keep up.

At the same time, current deployment encourages content providers who are still not using IPv6 to get moving, as the large volume of “requests” cannot be ignored.

The run out of IPv4 addresses in the region will trigger an imminent change in the way in which new addresses are assigned. What difficulties have you encountered under the current rules?  What challenges will the community face under the new resource assignment policy?

Currently there are no difficulties in terms of obtaining new addresses. As the region’s RIR, LACNIC still has a pool of free IPv4 addresses available for assignment, and current policies allow them to be freely assigned provided the requested amount of address space can be justified.

On the other hand, once LACNIC’s IPv4 address pool reaches a volume equivalent to a /12, the rules will change and it will no longer be possible to fully satisfy providers’ needs: a maximum assignment will come into force. In addition to imposing a limitation, the purpose of this is to organize the final phase before exhaustion and also to raise awareness among providers.

Adjusting to the new policy will represent a challenge, but the volume each operator will be able to receive should be enough for their internal organization and for activating short-term mechanisms that will allow new users to be added and access IPv4-only content. Efforts made by various organizations throughout the region should also alert those who have not yet decided to deploy IPv6.

Moreover, while they continue to postpone IPv6 deployment, their competitors will be implementing the new protocol and thus creating new benefits for their users.

Which aspects of the Fourth Network Operators Forum do you consider most relevant?

In relation to this latest forum, I would like to highlight the large number of participants who attended because they consider the forum to be highly relevant for the community.

As during previous editions, this time around presentations were of the highest quality and addressed current issues of great interest to the network operators’ community.

To conclude, I would like to highlight the chance to meet with operators from other regions, and to share experiences, knowledge and solutions to common problems.

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