Comcast continues to extend its leadership role in the adoption of next-generation Internet services with the news that it has expanded its production IPv6 deployment into four more states -- Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey -- over the past six weeks.
Comcast made the announcement here yesterday at a technical seminar sponsored by Network World called "The Critical Path to IPv6."
Comcast launched its production IPv6 deployment on Oct. 31 in the East Bay area of San Francisco with 100 customers. Now Comcast says it has more than 1,000 users of IPv6 nationwide.
"We've seen no technical issues...We've seen no increase in tech support calls,'' said John Brzozowski, chief architect for IPv6 and distinguished engineer at Comcast, which has been a leader in the deployment of IPv6 among U.S. ISPs. "For the vast majority of people, it's the same Internet the day after we deploy IPv6. ''
IPv6 is an upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol, which is called IPv4. IPv6 features an expanded addressing scheme that can support billions of devices connected directly to the Internet at faster speeds and lower cost than IPv4, which is running out of addresses.
Comcast said it is on track to deploy IPv6 across its entire network by the end of 2012.
"Our goal is to continue to expand our IPv6 offerings to people,'' Brzozowski said. "There are a lot more cities to come'' in the first quarter of 2012.
Comcast is offering its customers what is called dual-stack service, meaning that it provides them with both IPv4 and IPv6 capabilities running side-by-side. Comcast has tested several other mechanisms for transitioning its network to IPv6, including encapsulation techniques such as 6to4 and 6rd, but says that it prefers dual stack.
"The central piece to our strategy is dual stack. We've spent seven years preparing our network to run IPv6 and IPv4 next to each other simultaneously,'' Brzozowski said. "Comcast recommends native dual stack as the best overall solution to IPv6 deployment...It allows a seamless introduction of IPv6 to our end users.''
The initial subscribers of Comcast's production-quality IPv6 service have stand-alone computers running Microsoft Windows 7, Windows Vista or Apple Mac OS X that are connected directly to a Comcast cable modem. Comcast plans to support IPv6 for customers with home routers at a later date.
BACKGROUND: Comcast signs first IPv6 corporate customer
Brzozowski urged the dozens of CIOs, CTOs and other IT executives in attendance at Network World's technical seminar to begin planning their IPv6 deployments now.
IPv6 "is inevitable. You should be on your way or thinking about your IPv6 deployment,'' Brzozowski said. "Over the last 18 months, we saw more progress on IPv6 than in the last decade. You will have to do something about IPv6 to allow your business to continue operating.''
Comcast is not only deploying IPv6 to its customer base nationwide, but is also supporting the new version of the Internet Protocol on its internal corporate network, which supports 100,000 employees.
"With enterprise deployments of IPv6, there are two key points,'' Brzozowski said. "IPv6 support must be at parity with IPv4. There should be no difference in performance or reliability. There should be a seamless transition. Second, with security for IPv6, all IPv6-capable hosts and servers may be globally reachable, so you have to factor that into your planning to ensure that your resources remain secure and protectable.''
Pointing out that it has taken Comcast nearly seven years to get to this phase of its IPv6 deployment, Brzozowski recommended U.S. enterprises plan ahead for IPv6. "It's a lot of work. There are a lot of moving parts,'' he warned.
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