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RSPs not demanding IPv6 services on NBN

Demand from retail service providers for IPv6 services on the National Broadband Network (NBN) has been low, according to Tom Sykes from NBN Co.

The government-owned company has implemented IPv6 capability for Internet data services, but it is still looking into IPv6 for UNI-V voice connections and multicasting for video content.

"It's safe to say we haven't had a strong demand from RSPs for that because most RSPs today, when they deploy UNI-V, they're using private IP addresses ... even the very large providers using UNI-V haven't requested this in the short-term," Sykes, manager -- customer solutions group at NBN Co, told Computerworld Australia.

IPv6 provides around 340 undecillion IP addresses, compared to 4 billion addresses under IPv4. As the number of Internet-connected devices has grown, exhaustion of IPv4 addresses has necessitated the adoption of IPv6.

A shortage of IPv4 addresses has been problematic for at least one RSP looking to sign up customers on the NBN. Victorian co-operative No ISP has struggled to sign up customers to the NBN due to a shortage of available IPv4 addresses.

Eventually the City of Melbourne came to the rescue, with the council agreeing to lease a number of IP addresses to the co-op for three years.

One year after World IPv6 Launch Day, Australia continues to lag behind other countries in IPv6 uptake.

Sykes said one of the problems with IPv6 uptake is providers don't have a sense of urgency around the transition because there are band-aid measures, such as carrier-grade NAT, that can be used to defer the switchover.

"Another reason is that many of the ISPs have got a stash of IPv4 addresses that they can use. So there's probably a few factors there," Sykes said.

NBN Co announced IPv6 compatibility for data services on the NBN around 18 months ago. To make the transition, NBN Co modified its signal equipment to RSPs.

"We needed to make some changes and have our equipment vendor, which is Alcatel-Lucent, make some changes on their hardware, which we did. That just took some time complete, so we've done that," Sykes said. "It was really dependent on our vendors to make those changes."

Sykes said he was unable to say how much NBN Co has spent on making equipment IPv6 compatible as the cost would have been rolled into total vendor requests.

Sykes said so far the main focus for NBN Co has been on IPv6 compatibility for data services on the NBN, with challenges for NBN Co implementing IPv6 for multicasting, including a lack of standards.

Another challenge is there is no other wholesaler in the world offering the new Internet protocol on multicast, according to Sykes.

"We're certainly happy to take references from other deployments and we talk to other carriers all the time, but I guess from our perspective there just hasn't been a strong demand because most customers at the moment [base] their strategies around using IPv6 for data services," he said.

So far Internode is the only RSP to offer IPv6 services on the NBN. The RSP runs dual stack services, offering both the newer and older standards, with IPv6 for new customers and the ability to opt-in for existing customers.

New business plans

NBN Co will be releasing new business plans at the end of this year for medium sized businesses.

The new business plans will provide symmetrical services and traffic classes to allow businesses to provision different applications.

NBN Co plans to release an enterprise Ethernet product in 2015.

It released its first business plan in September last year to allow businesses to run up to 50 voice services and a one-hour response time to incidents.

Sykes said small businesses are already signing up for the product. However, he conceded there are challenges associated with businesses transitioning to the NBN.

Sykes said businesses need to carefully examine their migration strategy and look at the types of applications they would use and how they could be best utilised on the NBN.

"The challenge is, now you've got this bandwidth available to you, how do you make the most use of that [and] how do you perhaps get a new video conferencing system that can make use some of these higher bandwidths?" Sykes said.

As the NBN rolls out into areas with more commercial precincts, demand for the medium business product will increase, according to Sykes.

He believes the biggest impact of the NBN for businesses will be the ubiquity it offers to connect offices in several different locations around the country on the same high-speed network.

For example, a company's head office typically has a fast broadband connection, but other branches might have slower connections.

"What that means then is that they can use the upload speed of the NBN in particular to start deploying applications in the cloud," Sykes said.

"Perhaps enabling applications like cloud storage can make use of the bandwidth. That's an ongoing evolution of business networking."

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU


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