The Never Ending IPv6 Transition

Hopefully, the two pieces of news last week about cable's IPv6 initiatives don't represent last-minute scrambling or, worse yet, a bit of activity that fits the "too little, too late" category. The first item is that the SCTE announced the laun...

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By Carl Weinschenk, Senior Editor

Hopefully, the two pieces of news last week about cable's IPv6 initiatives don't represent last-minute scrambling or, worse yet, a bit of activity that fits the "too little, too late" category.

The first item is that the SCTE announced the launch of The IPv6 Deployment Working Group. Charter members are ARRIS, Bright House Networks, Comcast, D-Link, Rogers and Time Warner Cable.

Separately, CableLabs claimed success for an IPv6 interop. The consortium said PacketCable 2.0 SIP calls were completed between a PacketCable 2.0 EDVA and a session border controller over IPv6 and a PacketCable 2.0 call between an IPv6 EDVA and IPv4 EMTA. The companies that participated, CableLabs said, were Alcatel Lucent, ARRIS, Broadcom, Casa Systems, Cisco Systems, Ericsson, GENBAND, Huawei, Incognito Software, Intel, Juniper Networks, LG Electronics, Motorola, Netgear and STMicroelectronics.

Both of these initiatives are welcome. The question, however, is that it seems a little late in the game for each. The telecommunications industry is well past the starting gate on IPv6: It's been three-quarters of a year since the last fresh batch of IPv4 addresses were awarded. Clearly, the time for planning is passing. It is time for large scale deployment.

But the SCTE and CableLabs know what they are doing. The frustration is more about the seemingly endless migration to IPv6. Y2K -- despite all the aggravation it caused -- was over on Jan. 1, 2000. Either things worked, or we were flung back to prehistoric times when people actually went into a store to buy something and watched programs according to a schedule set by the cable company.

The migration to IPv6, however, is so gradual that it makes glaciers seem like they are in a hurry. Added to this is the fact that nobody is quite sure what will happen if the transition "fails." Each of the following statements have been thrown about:



  • "The world will abruptly melt down. It's bye-bye, Internet."


  • "The world will gradually grind to a halt some time after the old addresses are gone."


  • "Internet activity to a great extent will go on regardless of the status of IPv6. But new functionality will be limited, and new addresses will not be issued."




Of those, the third is the most accurate. The bigger point is that these issues have been on the table for most of the past decade. Hopefully, the initiatives from CableLabs and SCTE are timely. And, hopefully, we are nearing the point at which we can stop worrying about the transition to IPv6.

Carl Weinschenk is the Senior Editor for Broadband Technology Report. Contact him at carl@broadbandtechreport.com.

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