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European Commission Pushes IPv6 Forward

Patrick Vande Walle

The European Commission has released a communication on IPv6, in time for the IPv6 Day in Brussels next 30th May. It goes in the same direction as the report presented at the OECD Ministerial meeting on "Future of the Internet Economy", that was held in Seoul, Korea earlier this month. At the same time, the Commission committed to make its own web services available on IPv6 by 2010.

It is good to see that intergovermental organizations take the lead on this, after 10 years of failure of the private sector to actually deploy IPv6. This is a good example of why governments are needed in the Internet governance arena, be it the IGF or the GAC in ICANN.

Quick and dirty fixes like NATs allow for small investments and high short-term returns. This is what most CEOs in the Internet industry are concerned with, because they risk to get fired if they do not provide a good and quick return to shareholders. When a long term and societal vision is needed, governments become key leading partners.

It is true that these governments also include a bunch of "supreme guides of the people's revolution" and other sorts of autocrats and dictators. Indeed, they censor and control their local Internet. These are the same people who control other media like TV or the written press. There is nothing new under the sun, and I still do not understand some in the Internet community who like us to think the Net is different from other media and that the (bad) rules do not apply.

This is why we need the increased presence of democratic governments in Internet governance circles. Unfortunately, the current ideology in democratic countries is to let the private sector do whatever it wants, with little political support. Not-so-democratic governments, on the contrary, tend to be very active. The end result, as we see in the IGF, is that the latter come up with requests that neither the private sector nor the "civil society" (whatever that means) can counter, because they lack the political weight. A good dictator knows the best way to silence the private sector is to become one of its customers, because no company wants to loose business. Which leads us back to paragraph 3 above.

By Patrick Vande Walle, All around Internet governance troublemaker
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Related topics: ICANN, Internet Governance, IPv6
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Re: European Commission Pushes IPv6 Forward W. Davis  –  May 29, 2008 7:45 AM PST

This changes nothing.

The commission can 'encourage' IPv6 all they want.  Until we put some teeth into this - think about charging money for keeping on IPv4 - only a few will move. 

When customers do move they will find that they've put themselves at risk and may actually fall BEHIND the rest of the world as a result.  More complex networks, limited equipment selection and vendor support, the need to retrain staff, old applications that no longer work.

Why do we want this - tell me again? 

So we can get more addresses?  Perhaps. But this crisis has been overstated since 1990.  NAT and CIDR work fine, thank you very much.  And if a few move to IPV6, then (uh-oh!) the rest of us won't have a crisis anymore.  So by all means, move ahead - better you than me.

So we can get security?  Got it already with IPSec.  And by the commission's own admission (read the report, please) it says that security is NOT better, it's just different.  New protocols, new security holes. 

So we can get autoconfiguration? Got it already with DNS, DHCP, UPNP, Bonjour, and so on.

So we can get mobility?  Got it already.  Ask any user with a Blackberry.

So we can get more scale?  Uh-oh, doubling the route tables with dual stacks, and running IPV6 in software in core routers ain't gonna get us there.  Few vendors are routing in hardware.

Now to the US Government: The US OMB won't meet the terms of the mandate - it is just not a priority for their IT departments, and is much more expensive than anybody ever thought.  And once some congressman figures out the $50B+ bill for this, they'll hold hearings on this as government waste.  Good luck to anyone explaining what IPv6 does for customers.

There is no incentive whatsoever for end customers to move to IPv6.  ISPs that have put up offerings are wondering where the customers are.

Bottom line: If indeed the address shortage is real, then start charging fees for IPV4 addresses.  This is the one thing that governments have some power to change, collectively.  Anything else is just wishful thinking.

Re: European Commission Pushes IPv6 Forward John Curran  –  May 30, 2008 12:19 PM PST

Why do we want this - tell me again?
So we can get more addresses?  Perhaps. But this crisis has been overstated since 1990.  NAT and CIDR work fine, thank you very much.  ...
So we can get more scale?  Uh-oh, doubling the route tables with dual stacks, and running IPV6 in software in core routers ain’t gonna get us there.  Few vendors are routing in hardware.

W. Davis - What we're running out of isn't IPv4 addresses, per se, it's large contiguous IPv4 address blocks, which necessary to provide to ISP's who can in turn route them (with very few routes) and connect up many new customers.  This is the hierarchical address and routing system that allows the present Internet to serve billions, while still only giving us a few hundred thousand routes in the global routing table.

At the point in time when the RIR's can't provide large contiguous blocks to enable ISP growth, the ISP's will need to connect the same number of new customers only utilizing many more smaller blocks reused from other places.  This will result in many more routes for the same number of new customers, much greating routing table growth, and make today's routing table problems to be considered minor by comparison.  We simply do not know today how to build something of this scale without hierarchical routing & addressing, and this basic principle will stop holding true once growth is using non-hierarchical address blocks.

The transition to IPv6 isn't customer-driven, it's just what ISPs must accomplish to continue to grow their businesses.

/John

Re: European Commission Pushes IPv6 Forward W. Davis  –  May 30, 2008 2:35 PM PST

John Curran said:

W. Davis - What we're running out of isn't IPv4 addresses, per se, it's large contiguous IPv4 address blocks, which necessary to provide to ISP's who can in turn route them (with very few routes) and connect up many new customers.  This is the hierarchical address and routing system that allows the present Internet to serve billions, while still only giving us a few hundred thousand routes in the global routing table.

At the point in time when the RIR's can't provide large contiguous blocks to enable ISP growth, the ISP's will need to connect the same number of new customers only utilizing many more smaller blocks reused from other places.  This will result in many more routes for the same number of new customers, much greating routing table growth, and make today's routing table problems to be considered minor by comparison.  We simply do not know today how to build something of this scale without hierarchical routing & addressing, and this basic principle will stop holding true once growth is using non-hierarchical address blocks.

The transition to IPv6 isn't customer-driven, it's just what ISPs must accomplish to continue to grow their businesses.

/John

Well put, John - you eloquently describe why the ISPs are backed into a corner. But without some customer demand, how can you reasonably expect to deploy IPv6 at scale?

Re: European Commission Pushes IPv6 Forward John Curran  –  May 30, 2008 3:59 PM PST

W. Davis said:

Well put, John - you eloquently describe why the ISPs are backed into a corner. But without some customer demand, how can you reasonably expect to deploy IPv6 at scale?

Push from the technical community, following by push from the RIR and Internet coordination folks, followed by push from the ISP community, and finally push via governmental and/or regulatory incentives.  Alas, it would have been great to have consumer 'pull' from increased functionality, but that was not deemed a specific IPv6 requirement.

/John

Re: European Commission Pushes IPv6 Forward Patrik Fältström  –  May 31, 2008 9:32 PM PST

A few comments…

First of all, the OECD Ministeral meeting in Seoul is in June. So it has not happened. yet. The IPv6 report from OECD is released though as mentioned by Patrick.

Secondly, exactly because of the reasons mentioned above (ISPs need customers before they can deploy IPv6 etc), the European Comission is pushing by requesting public e-services, member states and themselves as an organisation to use IPv6.

This is not pushing as in "asking other people to do something". Just because, as mentioned in the comments, that does not work.

So, the report is good, it talks about the right things, and people interested should read it. I also wrote about this report. People can also have a look at the presentation Detlef Eckert from the European Commission had at the RIPE meeting earlier in May 2008. That described the report pretty well.

Re: European Commission Pushes IPv6 Forward Patrick Vande Walle  –  Jun 01, 2008 11:00 AM PST

ISPs must have been particularly blind and deaf to ignore that many of their customers behind NATs and double NATs are unable to use some applications.
Customers just do not call their ISP and ask for IPv6. They just complain their software does not work (and often told to fix the software, not the ISP's network). So, invoking "no demand" from the user's side seems intellectually dishonest.

Deploying IPv6 on an ISP's network does have a cost. If the ISP cannot pass on that cost to the customer, and if there is no immediate danger of losing customers then the investment is not worth it.

I am not convinced that offering public e-services on IPv6 will help a lot, because these services are already available on IPv4 and often with a better user experience in terms of speed. Again, there is no incentive for investment in IPv6 on the ISP side.

Re: European Commission Pushes IPv6 Forward Patrik Fältström  –  Jun 01, 2008 11:06 AM PST

If public e-services are offered on IPv6, the government will in many cases be the first customer that ask the ISP for IPv6, and therefore they will pay the high bill that, as you say yourself, the first customer have to pay. This is the number one reason why public services must move themselves first. Else we will have a catch-22 for many many more years, and we will have NAT and other things.

Re: European Commission Pushes IPv6 Forward John Curran  –  Jun 01, 2008 11:15 AM PST

Again, there is no incentive for investment in IPv6 on the ISP side.

I'd agree with you 100% with the insertion of a single word:

There is no obvious incentive for investment in IPv6 on the ISP side.

Since we will shortly have no way to let ISP's to continue to add new customers and successfully maintain routing, it's truly in their interest to move to the larger hierarchical address space of IPv6.  Unfortunately, this situation is both technically arcane and beyond the immediate-financial-results focus of many ISP organizations.

/John

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