Network operators that don´t use IPv6 will have no market

Failure on the part of the region’s operators to massively adopt IPv6 has raised concern among specialists.

Tomas Lynch says he had expected greater IPv6 deployment in Latin America and the Caribbean after last year’s the announcement regarding IPv4 exhaustion.

A member of ISOC and an active participant at LACNOG meetings, Lynch notes that companies have become aware of the need to deploy IPv6 but ¨the use of the new technology is yet to be widespread.”

The expert explained that, within five years, 50 billion devices are expected to be connected to the Internet, and that this will only be possible with IPv6. Speaking to LACNIC News, Lynch warned that “in five years, network operators that don’t use IPv6 will have no share in this market.”

– How do you view IPv6 deployment in Latin America and the Caribbean? Do you think that companies and organizations have become aware of the importance of adopting the new Internet protocol and its massive utilization?

Deployment has been slow in Latin America. Although in certain specific countries IPv6 deployment rates are comparable to those of European countries –namely Peru (12%), Ecuador (4%) and Bolivia (2%)–, the remaining countries have not yet reached 1% penetration and even countries such as Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela have very low adoption rates. Considering each country’s population, the conclusion is that the majority of the Latin American and Caribbean population does not have IPv6 connectivity on their devices.

What these penetration rates tell us is that network operators are not massively using IPv6. On the other hand, these companies are already aware of the importance of IPv6. Many of these companies already have plans for deploying the new version of the protocol or are in the process of analyzing their networks to do so. Let’s recall that deployment not only involves providing end users with an IPv6 address, but also adapting  security systems, charging systems, etc.

– Taking into account the fact that IPv4 was exhausted last year, were you anticipating greater deployment in the region?

Indeed, after LACNIC’s announcement I thought that companies –particularly local companies– would be quick to begin deploying IPv6. Many of these companies have delayed deployment by using Carrier Grade NAT (CGNAT). To do so, however, they have had to make significant financial investments that would have been better spent on IPv6 deployment.

– 4G technology is booming, which allows many real-time applications to be used from mobile phones. In the book “IPv6 for Network Operators” you argue that “without IPv6, there is a high risk of not being able to continue to provide services to users.” Why IPv6?

The number of devices is growing hand in hand with 4G mobile networks: users want or need connectivity wherever they are, not only for working or sending emails, but also for entertainment such as online videos. This growing number of devices not only requires bandwidth: at least one IP address is required for each device and hundreds of ports are needed for multiple applications. By not deploying IPv6, the number of devices connected to the network is reduced. If we factor in technologies such as CGNAT where a certain number of ports are delivered via IPv4, we will have a network with few users and those few will either not be able to use all their applications at once or they will have to remember to disconnect one application before using another.

The conclusion is that, due to the large number of ports they consume, there is a direct relationship between applications (ranging from home banking to games) and IPv6. As for applications, 85% of them already support IPv6. This means that they are not a barrier to IPv6 deployment.

– Are the various mobile network architectures designed to support IPv6 or are new investments needed?

Among others, mobile network architectures follow 3GPP, ITU-T and IETF standards. In particular, 3GPP has included IPv6 support in its documents since 1999 and even LTE was developed with greater focus on IPv6 than on IPv4. Thanks to these standards, companies that provide products and services for mobile networks already support both IP versions on their equipment. New investments will be needed depending on equipment longevity and whether they are using dual-stack bearers or an IP bearer for each protocol version.

– What might happen if network operators don’t deploy IPv6 on their networks?

They will be left out of the market, as their use of NAT technologies will limit their growth. The investment they will have to make to maintain those systems will be even higher than the cost of a timely IPv6 deployment.

Considering the Latin American and Caribbean reality, how would you convince an operator who already has IPv4 connectivity to invest money and resources so that their local networks can reach the Internet via IPv6?

As Vint Cert said, the business of IPv6 is staying in business. In the long run, any investment made today in IPv6 –whether in equipment, design, system upgrades, or others– will be cheaper than investing and positioning the network’s growth using IPv4 and NAT. In five years, 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet, and this will only be possible with IPv6. In five years, network operators that don’t use IPv6 will have no share in this market.