Is Pakistan ready for IPv6?

Internet connectivity depends on having an Internet (protocol, IP) address. The current IP version in use is 4 and the unallocated pool of available IPv4 address space is depleting and according to various reports, 85% of the total four billion IPv4 address were already allocated by 2008 where the possible estimated exhaustion of the IPv4 addresses will be around 2011 or 2012.

According to the IPv6 Forum website, the IPv4 Exhaustion Counter’s present status is:

Reserved Blocks (IANA) 11% = 30/256 blocks
Until X-day estimation: 736 days

The new solution over IPv4 is IPv6, a new protocol promising to offer the possibility of more unique Internet addresses. IPv6 has been available for sometime now and allows for virtually almost unlimited address space. The adoption of IPv6 has been very slow todate and for the Internet to connect billions of people as well as smart environments comprised of devices that need to run on the Internet to provide new communications services are all need of the addressing space that IPv6 provides.

As earlier mentioned, smart environments use new kinds of applications, like sensor networks, intelligent agents and communication devices. Such an example may be quoted from the construction industry where they are using IPv6 to create smart and intelligent buildings. IPv6 is used to enable Internet based remote controlled security cameras or manage home appliances from remote locations. These smart buildings also save on energy which is a very critical global concern nowadays.

In terms of the state of adoption of IPv6, we stand at the bare minimum. Despite the fact that Telecommunication and Internet Service Provider companies have adequate knowledge about IPv6, the general population that uses the Internet is yet unaware of the issues of IPv4 address space depletion and IPv6 address space counter solutions. There is an expert group of networking engineers and professionals that have been sandbox testing IPv6 in Pakistan but how will this knowledge be passed on to the general Internet user population remains an issue of concern.

Enabling the IPv6 address block is very necessary at this point in time to enable sustainable growth in the use of the Internet but making the switch from IPv4 to IPv6 remains a difficult and daunting task as it takes both time and resources as well as a commitment by all stakeholders including the Government, Private Sector, Academia and Civil Society. Let’s see what the Internetworking experts have to share on this?