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Curran: 'Not on Internet' unless on IPv6

John Curran, ARIN CEO

John Curran, ARIN CEO & President

John Curran, the voluble president and CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers, didn’t waste any time exhorting attendees at last week’s North American IPv6 Summit in Denver to break the logjam delaying the widespread implementation of the next-generation protocol.

“Why are we doing this?” he asked. “What is the one event” that will spark the momentum needed to fuel IPv6’s adoption?

Curran said the energy sparked by the realization that IPv4 addresses would soon disappear had sputtered over the past year as enterprises and ISPs found other ways to manage device identification and addressing.

“ISPs say customers aren’t asking for [IPv6], and you can’t expect ISPs to deploy when customers aren’t asking for it,” he said. And why aren’t customers demanding their providers switch to IPv6?

“Because they believe they are already connected to the Internet. We must disabuse them of that notion.”

To Curran, IPv4 is not the Internet, users’ claims notwithstanding.

“You are connected to a subset of the Internet,” he said of those users that believe they’re fully Web-enabled.

“We have to begin to tell customers they are not on the Internet; they are paying to be on, but they need to be told they are not on the Internet unless they are on IPv6,” Curran said.

To be sure, Curran and ARIN have a vested interest in encouraging enterprises and ISPs to adopt IPv6. North American IPv4 addresses will be exhausted by 2015, and with millions of user devices and other Internet-aware gadgets slated to come on-stream in the next few years, IPv6 is the only alternative. But IPv6 adoption, at least in the United States, has been glacial. While a little more than a third of U.S. government websites are IPv6 enabled, only 3.7% of industry websites and 5.7% of educational websites are similarly supported, according to stats shared at the Summit.

And that doesn’t say anything about how few enterprises’ internal networks natively support the IPv6 protocol.

For better or worse, many ISP and enterprise executives remain reluctant to invest the time, money and resources necessary to migrate to IPv6. The protocol’s proponents, and there are many, understand this. But they also understand how critical it is for companies and carriers to embrace IPv6.

Not because it can handle as many addresses as there are grains of sand, as the saying goes. But because it will also usher in new services and new capabilities that U.S. businesses and ISPs will need to remain competitive in the years and decades to come.

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