IPv6 got a lot of attention in February when the last batch of IPv4 addresses allocated to North America was given out. Another reminder of the importance of making the jump to the new addressing protocol came last week when the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) reported IPv4 exhaustion as well.
Neither piece of news means that the Internet will screech to a grinding halt. Rather, both are milestones that mean things have progressed to a point where the day when end users indeed will be impacted is within sight and coming closer. In other words, the headlights of the oncoming train are growing larger. That train still is a ways off -- but it is a big train, and it's best to move off the tracks now.
MSOs are major players in this slow moving drama, since they collectively constitute a huge segment of the worldwide ISP community. It's good to see that operators and the vendors and organizations that support them are paying attention.
Signs of progress are apparent. For instance, last week, ARRIS announced that its DOCSIS 3.0 C4 CMTS and Touchstone WBM760 wideband cable modem have been deployed in a services trial on a Comcast network in the Denver area. The test, the vendor said, focuses on CPE support in a dual stack implementation.
More broadly, the NCTA is devoting an entire track to IPv6 at the Cable Show in Chicago in June. The IPv6 Summit, if nothing else, shows that the powers that be are taking the situation seriously. Even more broadly, June 6 is IPv6 Day. Engineering staffs should participate, and almost certainly will.
Internet folks who have spent a decade working on IPv6 suggest that the transition, if handled proactively, is manageable and relatively painless. If not, it can be a real problem. MSOs and other service providers who pay attention -- as Comcast and the other big operators are -- shouldn't have a problem. The big question is whether budget- and personnel-strapped operators also are paying attention -- or just lip service -- to this serious issue.
Carl Weinschenk is a reporter for Broadband Technology Report. Contact him at email@example.com.