IPv6, a great business tool for growing your customer base

One of Latin America and the Caribbean’s largest private networks is already offering services over IPv6, and this has allowed them to go after new business opportunities and grow their service offerings as compared to other players in the market.

IFX Networks has been part of the industry for more than 14 years and is present in 16 Latin American countries. The company sees itself as a pioneer in private IPv6 deployment and for the past two years has been reaping the benefits of a decision made by the Board of Directors who, when faced with the prospect of IPv4 exhaustion in the region, decided to invest in the latest version of the Internet protocol.

IFX Networks’ example is clearly an IPv6 transition success story.  “We were convinced this was an step we needed to take,” says Andres Gallego, Regional Product and Marketing Manager at IFX Networks, in an interview with LACNIC News during the most recent LACNIC meeting which took place in Bogotá (Colombia).

Does the company think of IPv6 as a product?

The company thinks of IPv6 as a feature of the company’s IP service offerings.

IFX Network was one of Colombia’s pioneers in having a dual stack network (a network which simultaneously runs both IPv4 and IPv6).

We started integrating IPv6 about a year and a half ago, supplying all our connectivity products with dual stack enabled and thus offering this service to those who wish to use both IPv4 and IPv6. This is true for all the market segments we serve: corporate, small and medium-sized companies and even major operators (carriers or ISPs).

Is it possible for a carrier using IFX’s services to offer IPv6 to its customers?

It is. Our network backbone is fully IPv6 enabled. This means that any customer supported on this backbone is IPv6 enabled. All the customer would need to do is implement IPv6 on its access link.

What were the reasons behind your decision to include IPv6 in your service offerings?

IFX was a pioneer when it decided to run a dual stack network, driven by an understanding of the direction in which IPv4 exhaustion was heading and interpreting it as a business opportunity. That’s when you realize that by migrating to IPv6 you will be growing your business or extending the company’s lifespan. Why? Because you’ll be able to continue to offer the same services you were offering before, while at the same time adding new features which were previously unavailable. All IPv6 addresses are now public. What exactly does this mean? It means it is much easier to provide services such as videoconferencing, connectivity, telemedicine and home automation, among others.

Which areas of the company first came up with the idea of implementing IPv6?

The idea first came up in Marketing and Product Development. The implementation department works based on the Marketing and Product Development department’s market observations.

How did you convince the company’s senior management that it was necessary to invest in IPv6?

It’s difficult to convince a company owner if your business is not profitable. What you need to do, however, is to look into the future. People become convinced when they look into the future and realize how far they can go or what new business they can create. That’s precisely what happened. Our Board of Directors was convinced that we should stay ahead and find a solution before going through what certain other operators are going though now, namely, a scarcity of IPv4 addresses.

The company was convinced that by enabling this new feature we would generate new business opportunities and grow our service offerings.

Did you have to overcome many difficulties?

At that time, not every equipment provider offered full IPv6 compatibility.

So we encountered problems when migrating. Merging all services onto a single network was quite a complex task. Today, equipment vendors do provide IPv6 feature sets, but this is due to the fact that IPv4 has run out.  When people became aware that IPv4 was running out, that’s when we were able to complete the migration.

How long did the process take?

In all, we needed a year and a half to implement our dual stack network. The network has now been providing uninterrupted service for two years.

Do you think IFX’s position within the market is different from that of other companies due to your early implementation of IPv6?

Yes, I do. IFX has the largest private public backbone in the Americas. This leads us to believe that we must always be pioneers. We are convinced it’s time to move forward with the transition.