The Future Of The Internet

January 30, 2009 Technical, General

On day two of Linux Conf I was able to attend two presentations on IPv6 – System Administration Consequences of the Endgame of IPv4 and the Deployment of IPv6 by AARNET’s Glen Turner and Google and IPv6 by Angus Lees. Both were extremely informative and made it clear to me that we need to start gearing up for IPv6. By “we”, I mean the world.

Don’t get me wrong – if you are the average home user IPv6 (or even IPv4) will mean nothing to you and the advent of IPv6 addressing en masse will likely pass you by without you even noticing. Much like the Y2K bug though, it will only be with the coordinated efforts of the best network and systems administrators around the world that we’ll be able to jump the hurdle again so gracefully.

Glen painted a fairly grim picture – by around 2010 we should expect to run out of IPv4 addresses. Admittedly there are large historical allocations which have very little usage but we can expect these to turn into lucrative commodities, bought and sold for whatever price the seller decides. IPv4 addresses will still be available, but at insanely inflated prices. The upshot of this? You can expect ISPs to start dealing in Enterprise NAT. Publicly routable IP addresses for anyone who isn’t willing to pay the price will disappear, as will end-to-end connectivity. The new cash cow for ISPs will be selling broker services for any applications requiring end-to-end connectivity such as VoIP and gaming.

In actual fact, this consumer-driven environment may spell doom for IPv6. ISPs will be able to make more money by selling services that work around the limitations in IPv4, thus it is in their best interests to not make IPv6 available. Everyone would benefit from IPv6 but it needs to be made available first. Angus Lees presented a report on the IPv6 survey conducted last year by Google. Using a variety of techniques piggy-backing on their search interface they were able to determine that around 0.2% of their users have IPv6 access. However almost half of these are not working properly. This is not enough of a userbase for which to enable IPv6 fulltime, and certainly too many non-functional deployments for which to risk breaking their search engine.

Will we all benefit from IPv6? Yes. Is it necessary to ensure the Internet continues working effectively? Definitely. Is it that hard to deploy? Maybe not.

Anchor has decided to commit to deploying IPv6, and to demystify this process we will document our progress publicly. You can view our progress on our public wiki at If you want to make the Internet a better place by pushing for the widespread deployment of IPv6, talk to your ISP and ask them what their IPv6 deployment plans are.