India and China go for large-scale IPv6 implementation

We had an IPv4 address shortage when we only had computers connected to the network. Now there are half a billion smartphones in India, and before long air conditioners, fridges, wearables and countless other devices will be connected to the net as well, says Vaishali Sangtani, Product Marketing Manager at Akamai. IPv6 is the future: all upcoming improvements to internet protocols, standards and security arrangements will be based on IPv6, not on IPv4. So it's really important that we don't miss the boat.

Use of IPv6 is increasing particularly quickly in India and China. LinkedIn's Senior System Manager Franck Martin recently wrote a blog describing how more and more traffic from those two countries is using IPv6. In traffic from India, the IPv6 share shot up from 22 to 35 per cent in the space of a year. According to Martin, mobile service provider Reliance Jio has played a big part in the jump by converting several hundred million Android users to IPv6-only.

In China, IPv6 users account for nearly 10 per cent of the total user population. Indeed, migration to IPv6 is an explicit element of a government policy adopted ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games. China aims to complete the changeover in the next few years: all Chinese internet users are to be using IPv6 by 2025.

LinkedIn-apacipv62

In his blog, Martin predicts that India and China will soon overtake the United States, where IPv6 adoption has already passed 50 per cent. However, according to the latest Akamai stats, India is already ahead of the US: data gathered by Akamai puts IPv6 use in traffic from the US at 46 per cent, compared with 62 per cent in Indian traffic.

Akamai-IPv6adoption-2019apr-all

IPv6 only

What these huge, emerging economies have in common is mobile operators that have migrated large cohorts of users to IPv6-only connections. Previous research by APNIC (the RIR for the APAC region) also found that mobile users are much more likely to use an IPv6 connection to access the internet than desktop or tablet users.

APNIC-ipv6-analytics-979x1024

As more servers support IPv6, an IPv6-only infrastructure becomes more attractive. After all, the use of NAT implies address translation, and CGNAT requires two translation steps. Whereas, if all your users have IPv6 connections, address translation is needed only for servers that exclusively support IPv4, which are gradually declining in number.

Administrative burden and complexity

Another consideration is that, for security reasons, most access providers are required (or wish) to keep accurate records of which connections are assigned to which users. With IPv6 and basic forms of NAT, that's easy to do: you simply have to record who has which IP address or prefix. Indeed, you can even record the details of each connection centrally on a one-off basis. With CGNAT, however, the connections between the NAT layers have to be factored in. That implies significant additional complexity and administrative burden.

The more common server-side IPv6 becomes, the more attractive client-side implementation of IPv6 becomes, because of the technical complexity and resource requirements. Client-side implementation also opens the way for removing IPv4 from the access network by setting up an IPv6-to-IPv4 gateway for residual traffic to IPv4-only servers.

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