Getting IPv6 to Play Nice

With the Internet of Things (IoT) gaining traction, as evidenced by the technologies displayed at CES 2016, IPv6 traffic will continue rising ...

Getting IPv6 to Play Nice in the Home Network
Getting IPv6 to Play Nice in the Home Network
With the Internet of Things (IoT) gaining traction, as evidenced by the technologies displayed at CES 2016, IPv6 traffic will continue rising. IPv4 addresses have been depleted, so the explosion of IoT devices (Gartner estimates 6.4 billion things will be online worldwide this year) is dependent on the IPv6 address inventory.

Service providers are planning on going to native IPv6 vs. continuing to use a carrier grade network address translation (NAT). But just because they deploy IPv6 to a house it doesn't automatically mean the associated devices inside will work.

To that end, the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) has approved four customer edge routers for its IPv6 Ready CE Router Logo. Devices from Broadcom, Netgear and ZTE passed the necessary IPv6 test cases indicating to service providers that IPv6 will work on these models.

"This program tests all devices. We had a DOCSIS device, Ethernet, and DSL device ... if you deployed v6 to someone's house, it will work so the home user isn't impacted," said Timothy Winters, senior manager, UNH-IOL. "The home user can buy these from Best Buy or Walmart, and this will work."

There are two components to the testing. The first is interoperability among all the components, and the second is conformance with standards.

"The (testing) makes sure the devices are conformant with what the (standards) say they will do - security, efficiency, (etc.)," Winters said.

Moving forward, the UNH-IOL is working on simplifying home networking. "Can my dad get devices and make (IoT) work in his home without having to do anything?" Winters said.

Another area is an IPv6 Ready Logo for the actual IoT devices that will demonstrate they are v6 enabled. The testing will include security. IPv6 enhances security and enables devices to communicate more directly. Specifically, IPsec is security built into the IP layer.

"A lot of the smaller (IoT) devices can't support full TLS (transport layer security) or an HTTPS connection. The footprint is too big to support," Winters said. "IoT devices have limited power, and vendors are concerned about eating into the battery time."

While IPsec isn't used in operating systems now because it is lower level, it might benefit the IoT, Winters added.

Specifically, the routers that received the Logo and met the requirements set by the v6LC and the IETF's RFC 7084, were the Broadcom BCM97435VMS, Netgear R6300v2, Netgear WNDR3800, and ZTE ZXHN H267N.

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