YouTube Steps Up on IPv6

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During the past two weeks, a good deal of attention-directly or indirectly -- has been on issues relating to the looming crisis in Internet addresses.

The technical community is very familiar with the problem and the solution. The Internet's current address scheme is running out of numbers. John Curran, the president and CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers, told me last month that the reservoir of available addresses is at about 10 percent mark. Luckily, there is a solution. IPv6 will increase the available addresses by orders of magnitude, if the IT and telecom industry can be convinced to use it.

The good news is that Google, according to Network World, has "quietly" turned on IPv6 support. The story says the ISP Hurricane Electric, which is heavily involved in the IPv6 sector, says the introduction has caused a thirty-fold increase in YouTube-generated IPv6 traffic crossing its network. Hurricane says Google's move seems to be permanent and not a test.

Initiatives such as IPv6 depend on momentum. It's difficult to get IT departments and CFOs excited about a topic that doesn't directly lead to greater revenues or lower costs. A high level of prodding and cajoling is necessary. With that in mind, the participation of Google has both practical and symbolic significance.

On the practical side, Google is a monster: Allot Communications' Jonathon Gordon told me a couple of weeks ago that YouTube all by itself represents 10 percent of the traffic on cell sites. Symbolically, YouTube owner Google is the company of the moment, and its seal of approval is important. It's encouraging to see that Comcast is pushing IPv6 as well.

A more indirect issue related to IPv6 also involves Google. Yesterday, the company announced that it will build experimental fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks capable of delivering oodles (actually, 1 Gigabit per second) of data. While the crux of the announcement clearly is on enabling high-speed activities, it is certain that the networks will lead to more uses of the Internet, more connectivity, more applications-and the need for more addresses.

Yesterday, I posted on the tremendous potential of smart grid and M2M technologies. This is just another trend that makes one thing clear: These and other great opportunities are dependent on the acceptance of IPv6. That's why Google's YouTube and Comcast's moves are good news -- and more companies must follow.