IPv6: No-One Apart From Telcos Cares Much

IPv6: No-One Apart From Telcos Cares Much

One of the topics readers suggested I look into while at Cisco Live! this week was what was happening with the uptake of IPv6. The short answer? Not much.

Cabling picture from Shutterstock

I asked Cisco Australia’s chief technology officer Kevin Bloch whether IPv6 came up as an issue in conversations with customers. His response? It’s a big deal for telecommunications companies and Internet service providers, but most other companies don’t even bring it up.

That makes sense for two reasons. Firstly, telecommunications companies are responsible for assigning a very large number of IP addresses: for each mobile phone that connects to the network, for broadband customers, and for the large numbers of individual sensor-equipped devices which are being used in the much-discussed “Internet of things” (machine-to-machine or M2M if you want to be less hyperbolic). In all those contexts, being able to access the much larger pool of IP addresses which IPv6 is a necessary requirement.

Paradoxically, telecommunications companies are also one of the chief architects of the behaviour that means no-one is worrying much about IPv6: network address translation (NAT). As we’ve discussed before in some detail, using carrier-grade NAT, which assigns the same IPv4 address to multiple devices and then relies on NAT to work out which device is actually involved, is a cheaper solution than an equipment and software upgrade for many providers.

Last year, Cisco predicted that there would be 124 million total IPv6 devices connected in Australia by 2017, and that 85 per cent of connected devices would be IPv6-capable. The kicker is that just because they’re capable — something that applies to every modern smartphone and computer — doesn’t mean they’re using it. We appear to have avoided the IP address apocalypse, but change comes slowly.


  • I dont know what the big fuss is, people should be happy about IPv6, expanding up updating the technology
    iv been working with IPv6 for years now and love it, i think people are just scared of change lol

  • You can have 2^24, or 16 million devices, sharing the same IPV4 address.
    Especially with VMs, – you can change the MAC address.

    The trouble is splitting that into sub-groups, to reduce the traffic to each router. Extending IP4 grouping into the MAC field would have been a nice way to around the limited address field, while maintaining compatibility. It’s just harder to implement on old hardware, where the MAC address is fixed.

    • Actually, thanks to bit-torrent, you can’t. Each connection needs a port. A single IP has 2^16-1 (65535) ports. Which means, at most 65,535 connections. BitTorrent can be configured to have about 200 concurrent connections (Yes, potentially a lot more, but there isn’t much performance gain after 200) .. That’s ~300 – 400 PC’s behind each IPv4 IP.

      I’m not going to go as far as to say you can’t have 16 million devices behind a single IP, but I will assert that if you do, they won’t work well.

  • IPv6 is good, but how are we supposed to remember those long addresses? The reason why I haven’t started using IPv6 addresses at home, is because I know my Ninja Block has an IP address of, but in IPv6? 0:0:0:0:0:ffff:c0a8:103. I think that the leading zeros can be trimmed, plus the Fs, but I don’t really know.

    Why didn’t they go for something that was more readable, like a maximum of 2048 per IP address “section” (e.g. 2048.2048.2048.2048 for a broadcast address) . That gives you 17 trillion addresses.

    Of course, I’m oversimplifying here, plus I’m no network engineer (just a lowly PHP programmer) but numerical is easier to work with than alphanumerical.

    • The f = 16 in hexadecimal.

      I was confused by this until I started dabbling in CISCO certification. Like MAC addresses, IPv6 uses 16 bit notation to define each character – although IPv6 is a 128 bit notation.

      I had always wondered by I had never seen a MAC address with a S or J in it. Hex goes from 1 to 0, then a-f to notate 16 different characters.

      I’m pretty sure you could remove the 0’s, but not the ffff’s. (Someone who has completed their certification can correct me here.)

      • I might have to look at more documentation, because it sounds easy enough, but with 20 years of doing IPv4, making the mental switch from v4 to v6 is going to be tough.

    • To compare, your 17 trillion possible addresses stacks up against (big breath) 340 undecillion, 282 decillion, 366 nonillion, 920 octillion, 938 septillion, 463 sextillion, 463 quintillion, 374 quadrillion, 607 trillion, 431 billion, 768 million, 211 thousand and 456 in IPv6.

      To get that in a decimal format you’d need a very long number indeed.

  • Since america has thousands of free IPv4 addresses, Cisco is right. Nobody in their world cares about IPv6.

    Carrier Grade NAT, yes, it’s a fix. Is it a solution? No, it’s a hack. Call any carrier and ask. And no; it’s not a hack that will becomes a permanent solution.

    But some people do care about IPv6. Some people who Cisco don’t talk to. Some people who are rapidly growing, have millions of devices now, and millions more coming online each day. Some people who don’t have millions of IPv4 addresses sitting idle. Cisco doesn’t hear much from these people, because they are people who speak mandarin.

    IPv6 is coming. It’s used extensively on the internet today. Almost every 3G device and 4G device in Australia is on an IPv6 address.

    Oh yeah, and there’s this little firewall in China too, and the devices behind it, well, lots of them use IPv6.

    Don’t believe everything you hear from Cisco, they think Microtik aren’t their competitors, and huawei are a wifi company.

  • I have enough trouble remembering the IPV4 addresses of many devices even when the first n digits are the same or laid out in a logical pattern, IPV6 would just make such a task harder so until it is necessary for day to day i don’t give a $#!t.

  • Ipv6 client access is now doubling every 8 months.
    Belgian access to google is 15% over ipv6. Worldwide 3%.
    In 2016, it is quite likely you’ll have it too.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!