Slow adoption of IPv6 risks harming Dutch innovation climate
Slow adoption of IPv6 in the Netherlands is liable to harm the nation's innovation climate. That's the conclusion of research carried out for SIDN. IPv6 is the successor to IPv4, the protocol that underpins the internet's addressing system. It's needed because the world has run out of IPv4 addresses and the technical workarounds used to keep the system going have implications for the stability of the internet.
With IPv6, addresses are structured in a completely different way, enabling far more of them to be created. However, according to monitoring by Google, the Netherlands has been slow to adopt the newer protocol. As a result, SIDN believes that the nation's competitiveness as an innovation centre is being undermined. Tech companies are likely to see countries with good IPv6 support as more desirable bases. The Netherlands lags behind with IPv6 largely because of the policies of the two biggest access providers, the report concludes. Neither KPN nor Ziggo offers internet users a proper dual-stack IPv6 connection.
Begium leads the way
According Google's data, Belgium heads the European ranking for IPv6 adoption, with more than 54 per cent of all visits to Google pages made from IPv6 addresses. In the Netherlands, the figure is just 13.2 per cent. The reluctance to embrace IPv6 does not bode well for the Dutch internet's future-readiness. Nor, indeed, for the competitiveness of the country's business community, since it makes the Netherlands less attractive as a place for innovation and investment in the Internet of Things (IoT).
IPv4 is now nearly forty years old, but is still used for the bulk of internet traffic. Because the internet has developed in ways that were unimaginable four decades ago, with countless internet-connected devices and appliances, the demand for addresses has long since outstripped the scope for creating them on the basis of IPv4. IPv6 uses a different addressing technology, and therefore has a much bigger 'address space'. Whereas IPv4 has space for 4 billion addresses, IPv6 has space for 340 undecillion (34 followed by 37 zeros).
Michiel Steltman, ceo of Digitale Infrastructuur Nederland (DINL), sees major issues for the implementation of IPv6, according to the study. DINL argues that there is no pressing shortage of IPv4 addresses, and therefore no clear economic incentive to switch to IPv6. Nevertheless, DINL advocates research into the risks associated with slow adoption, since it doesn't want to see the sector caught out by developments that it can't respond to quickly.
According to the study findings, big companies and small businesses are embracing the new protocol more than medium-sized enterprises. Of the various sectors analysed, universities are easily the biggest IPv6 supporters, with an adoption rate of 43 per cent. And the private sector is using IPv6 more than the public sector. Nevertheless, the overall percentages are generally disappointing.
"Slow adoption of IPv6 is liable to harm our country's international standing," fears Roelof Meijer, SIDN's CEO. "It detracts from the Netherlands' image as a leading innovator. And that increases the danger of startups and innovative tech companies seeing other countries that do have good IPv6 support as more desirable bases. The services of global technology companies, such as Netflix, Google and Facebook, have been using IPv6 for a long time. That tells you which way the world is heading."
Meijer also highlights the growing demand for IP addresses linked to the rise of the IoT: "Hubs and gateways that enable communication with IoT devices and domotics need IP addresses. If the Netherlands is going to continue to feature in development of the IoT, further implementation of IPv6 is essential."
SIDN's Chief Exec is therefore calling on everyone involved to finally commit to IPv6: "We all have a responsibility here. What we're talking about is our country's readiness for the future."