IPv6 and the 5 Billionth Customer

By Yves Poppe
Yves Poppe

The POPClock tells us that there are 6,807,230,170 of us on this planet when I looked it up at 22:26 UTC (EST+5) Feb 26, 2010. In the meantime we are about to connect the 5 billionth cell phone user this year according to ITU Secretary-General Dr. Hamadoun Toure. At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona he also mentioned that the current recession hardly put a dent in the subscriber growth. Gartner Research shows 1.2 billion cell phones sold in 2009, down 0.9 from the previous year but a strong growth in smart phones which saw sales of 172.4 million units growing by 23.8 % for the year, 58 % in the fourth quarter only! On the network side a February 26th press release from the GSA association announced that 59 operators in 28 countries are now committed to LTE compared to 39 operators in 19 countries six months ago. A further 16 operators are running technology trials. By the end of 2010 22 LTE networks will have entered commercial service. The first 2 commercial LTE networks were launched last December in Sweden and Norway. And let us not forget Mobile Wimax which is also gaining some momentum.

As Global Insight speculates, we are indeed likely to see the smart phone war starting to get more acrimonious in 2010 as software platforms and manufactures slug it out, hopefully to the benefit of the consumer. Mobile web browsing for the masses should not be that far away as smart phone prices start dropping seriously. On the network side we are likely to witness a titanic battle amongst mobile network operators trying to walk the fine line between the cost of G4 licenses and network upgrades, affordable end-user pricing, growth in market share and EBITDA. The only certainty is a decoupling between the growth in traffic volumes and the growth in revenue.

As markets and technologies evolved so fast it was rather interesting to see the sudden scramble on how to do voice and SMS over LTE. The most basic, and let us admit, most lucrative, services seemed forgotten in the data deluge. Would it be Volga (Voice over LTE with generic access) using existing circuit switched networks or would it be One Voice which is IMS based with real VoIP calls. One Voice now seems to be gaining the upper hand.

IMS implies addressable IP addresses, lots of them, no need to say more.

Time has come for an IPv6 address population clock to complement the IPv4 address exhaustion clock.

By Yves Poppe, Director, Business Development IP Strategy at Tata Communications. (Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these articles are solely those of the author and are not in any way attributable to nor reflect any existing or planned official policy or position of his employer in respect thereto.)

Related topics: IPv6, Mobile Internet, Networks