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Broadband providers & router manufacturers failing to support IPv6
Tuesday 11 May 2010 15:20:52 by Sebastien Lahtinen

'IPv6' is version six of the 'Internet Protocol' which has been available since 1998 however it is currently only supported by a very small number of niche broadband service providers. It is important that service providers can support IPv6 as the available address space we currently use ('IPv4') is projected to run in 2011. After this, it will not be possible to allocate new IPv4 addresses which are used to identify each computer on the Internet, and whilst it will take some time before the effects are truly felt by consumers, it will start to divide the Internet.

IP addresses are like phone numbers and as the telephone network expanded, it was necessary to make them longer to make space for new numbers, for example by changing London's area code from '01', to '071', then '0171' and finally '020' in April 2000. The good news for consumers is that because we use domain names rather than IP addresses when going to websites, you will be able to continue to type www.google.com into your web browser, and it will take you to Google in exactly the same way whether it uses IPv4 or IPv6.

Mainstream operating systems such as Microsoft Windows and Apple's OS X have supported IPv6 for some time now, and even companies like Google have been IPv6 enabled since 2008, but only a small number of broadband service providers and router manufacturers are ready. It seems that those offering IPv6 are the niche providers.

The current IPv4 address space contains 4.3 billion addresses, but as more users and companies come online in countries like China, we're fast running out of them. The number of addresses offered by IPv6 is 340,282,366,920,938,000,000,000,000,000 billion (2 to the power of 128) which means that the size of the Internet could double every year and we would still have enough IPv6 addresses for the next 96 years.

We called 17 broadband service providers a few weeks ago to ask if they supported IPv6 and we were quite surprised by the results, not because we expected it to be supported by many of them, but because of the inaccurate information we were provided. Several larger providers took 20 minutes to give us a definitive answer, and even then we believe 3 of them got it wrong.

Here are some of the interesting responses to our question "Do you support IPv6?"

"Is it Internet Explorer 6?"
"I know quite a bit about computers but I've never heard that before."
"Never been asked. I'm just looking at Wikipedia right now"
"Is that voice over Internet?"
"[IPv6] has not been released in the market"
"We support IP version 5, but I'm not too sure about 6"
"Is that a TV channel?"
"[We] would advise you to use version 4 [..] Version 6 never always works"

Responses from service providers when asked "Do you support IPv6?"

You can check if your connection is IPv6 capable or run an IPv6 speed test.

Comments

Posted by krazykizza over 4 years ago
Name and shame them... lmao.
Posted by xela over 4 years ago
"I know quite a bit about computers but I've never heard that before."
"Never been asked. I'm just looking at Wikipedia right now"

They're pretty reasonable answers, but name and shame the others :-p
Posted by Matchstick over 4 years ago
I can't say I'd consider it reasonable for someone who knows "quite a bit about computers" never to have heard of IPv6 before.
Posted by junipurr over 4 years ago
Unfortunately a *lot* of consumer routers either have no IPv6 support or the implementation is exceptionally shoddy. Routers that your average user will find in Maplin/PC World/etc are very unlikely to work. ISPs that support v6 can/do turn it on for users but without CPE support it's pretty much useless.
Posted by rian over 4 years ago
Let's disclosure those ISP who know IPv6, come on.
Posted by TonyHoyle over 4 years ago
You really should name and shame.. there's a world of difference between saying 'we don't support it yet' to 'is that a TV channel?'

btw. I the ipv6 speed test says 'click start below to run the test' but there's no 'start' to click..
Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
@Matchstick:I would in general terms. There's far more to computers than just the internet and you can do 95% of network related tasks without knowing anything about IP addresses - 32 bit or 128 bit.

OTOH it's a slightly poor showing for someone in ISP technical support. They are after all in the business of providing IP based functionality.
Posted by Drefsab over 4 years ago
Sadly this does not surprise me, I just hope none of those answers came from Zen if so let me know who it is and I will go "Educate them". Just to note Zen is aware and looking into how it will implement/deliver IPv6 to customers but at the moment there are no specific details that I can provide.
Posted by seb (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
@rian - AAISP and IDNET said that they did and we know they did. We had three larger providers who said they supported IPv6 but we don't believe they do. Our sample was just one call. The interesting stats was how long it took to answer.. Some like O2/BE took a minute.. others took 20 mins :)
Posted by john (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
@TonyHoyle Start button is only there if you have v6. If you are connecting from v6 then your Java didn't load the applet for some reason..
Posted by victor over 4 years ago
I also notice that scanning the barcode in the photo takes you to www.thinkbroadband.com on my Nokia E71
Posted by seb (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
@victor - although it won't be our ipv6 site.. you can get that on ipv6.thinkbroadband.com though.. we did some dual stack testing over a year ago and we'll probably dual stack www in the next few months.
Posted by KarlAustin over 4 years ago
The reason there are no CPEs are the ISPs aren't asking for v6 support in them (or at least that's what someone who is in charge of what goes in what router at a major tells me). As soon as the ISPs start asking for v6 it'll be there - all the majors have it, as they sell it in to other territories.
Posted by mhc over 4 years ago

Are you prepared to name the culprits for those comments?

Are you planning to host a table of IPv6 compliant ISPs with introduction dates?

Posted by chrysalis over 4 years ago
KarlAustin in other words they will introduce ipv6 at the latest possible moment, and I bet we consumers will then need to buy new routers making them more profit in the process rather than it been rolled out in firmware updates.
Posted by KarlAustin over 4 years ago
Most likely, they are in business to make money after all. However it isn't consumer buying that drives demand, it's ISPs who give routers away that drive demand and features.
Posted by wirelesspacman over 4 years ago
given that the average lifetime of a consumer router tends to be measured in months not years (before they start giving up the ghost), that should not be a problem! :-)
Posted by winston_wolf over 4 years ago
no culprits needed. you're calling the tech support desk. they know what they need to know to do their jobs - which doesn't, at present, include ipv6. Network engineering on the other hand, should know it, understand it, and have a plan for how they will be deploying it (or have done so already). Email the neteng dept at each isp for a more realistic survey.
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