At the 6th anniversary, IPv4 still dominates IPv6

IPv6 is the next generation Internet Protocol (IP) address standard intended to supplement and eventually replace IPv4, the protocol many Internet services still use today. It was launched 6 years ago, on 6 June 2012. The global IPv6 traffic has grown more than 5000% since World IPv6 Launch began, with some networks now reporting 80 or 90% deployment of IPv6!

IPv6 is seeing steady uptake among service providers, but still hasn’t pushed its predecessor, IPv4, into obsolescence, according to a report released by the Internet Society. The outlook for IPv6 adoption is not uniformly rosy, however. A recent draft proposal from the International Telecommunications Union to move the internet in general toward IPv6 has been heavily criticized and faced push back for not doing enough to reduce the reliance on IPv4, and being unlikely to result in meaningful reforms.

There are 24 countries in the world where IPv6 totals more than 15% of overall IP traffic, and 49 that have topped the 5% threshold. Yet the Internet Society – a non-profit that works to promulgate internet standards and lobby for open access to the internet – describes the technology as having moved from the “early adoption” development stage to the “early majority” phase.

ISOC noted that one of the major challenges to IPv6 deployment is the enterprise market. Thanks to legacy applications that might not be architected to run on IPv6, many enterprise users still need IPv4 connectivity. But that also makes for what the group calls “an interesting business opportunity” – given that Microsoft purchased 666,000 IPv4 addresses in 2011 for a hefty $11.25 each, companies that get a jump on IPv6 adoption can take advantage of the market for IPv4 addresses before values start to decline, which the group estimates will happen in 2019.

And overall, growth has continued. Of the 1,000 most popular websites, per Alexa, 28% are working with IPv6, a 5 percentage point increase over last year’s numbers. That figure also rose by 4 percentage points for the top million Alexa sites, from 13% to 17%.

ISOC’s core recommendations are to:

(a) start deploying IPv6 now if you haven’t already,
(b) use established RFP requirements like RIPE-554: Requirements for IPv6 in ICT Equipment, and
(c) take advantage of existing IPv6 deployment information including the Internet Society’s Deploy360 Program.

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