The Decisive Phase of IPv6 Finally Is Upon Us

Carl Weinschenk

IPv6 hasn't been in the headlines too much lately, which is odd considering that World IPv6 Launch Day is slated for June 6.

But everything that Facebook does is news, so the dearth of headlines ended with the news that company is starting an IPv6 beta site on May 18. The goal is to give developers ample opportunity to make sure that nothing is amiss before the system goes live. (The URL is

There are a number of ways to move to IPv6. Facebook, this ZDNet report says, has opted for an approach called "dual stack." As the name implies, dual stack - which is considered the most efficient solution by experts - involves simply running IPv4 and IPv6 "stacks," or network capabilities, in parallel.

The story outlines what is happening ahead of the big day. It says that some big content providers (in addition to Facebook, Google, Microsoft Bing and others), end-user equipment makers (such as Cisco and D-Link) and seven big ISPs (AT&T, Time Warner Cable, KDDI and others) all are on board. China Mobile, for instance, last week announced what China Tech News calls "a complete end-to-end IPv6 transition plan, covering its access network, carrying network, supporting systems, devices, and businesses."

Another service provider moving on IPv6 is Comcast. Indeed, the cable operator has long been among the most aggressive in its IPv6 rollouts. Here is more, courtesy of PC World, on the cable operator's approach.

Not all is well in IPv6 land, however. IT World reports that the federal government may not be fulfilling its obligations despite its loud vocal support of the standard. Indeed, the short fall seems to be significant, at least based on the mid-April results from a weekly survey by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST):

In total, only 10 out of 1,565 domains operated by federal agencies were able to pass NIST's tests for IPv6 support on DNS, email and Web this week. That's not even 1% of the total number of domains tested.

There is a reason to be optimistic about the acceptance of IPv6. However, it is by no means certain that a critical mass of service providers, content owners and electronics manufacturers will line up behind the vital new technology. The situation is far brighter than it was a year ago. That's to be expected as the last stray IPv4 addresses are consumed and people in power grow alarmed. Whether the momentum is strong enough to avert a crisis remains to be seen.

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