News Column

Forum Raises Concerns Over Nigeria's IPv6 Migration

August 20, 2014

Adeyemi Adepetun and Bankole Orimisan

THERE are palpable fears about the commitment of Nigeria and other African countries planned migration from Internet Protocol Version 4 to Internet Protocol Version 6, which is the latest IP address system, which is expected to redefine web technologies.

According to the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), the body responsible for the global coordination of the Domain Name System (DNS) Root, IP addressing, and other Internet protocol resources, the IPv4 resources have been exhausted and gradually going into extinction, which now makes the migration to IPV6 a must.

The IPv6 is the latest version of the IP. It is the communications protocol that provides an identification and location system for computers on networks and routes traffic across the Internet.

Indeed, at a workshop organized by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) in collaboration with Africa Network Information Centre (AFRINIC), the need for Nigeria and other African countries to expedite actions on migrating to the new IP system was reechoed.

At the workshop, which was held in Lagos last week, with over 40 networks engineers from 24 organisations in attendance, the President of ATCON, Lanre Ajayi said the workshop was part of the advocacy role, ATCON is playing in the telecommunications space.

Ajayi, an engineer said ATCON collaborated with AFRINIC to organize this workshop to give the Nigerian telecom network engineers the empowerment required to upgrade their network from IPV4 to IPV6.

Speaking on behalf of AFRINIC, Mukom Akong Tamon said the body is leading the effort to create awareness, promote and support IPv6 deployment throughout Africa to all stakeholders such as network operators, mobile operators, academic institutions, banks, government and regulators.

Akong Tamon, who fears the readiness of Nigeria and other African countries for the migration, said AFRINIC might not be able to meet the demand for IPv4 as it is already nearing exhaustion, stressing that it is is important to start the deployment of IPv6.

He explained that IP is a system that assigns numbers to every Internet device, stressing that IPv4 has a capacity to assign 4.3 billion addresses only, while IPv6 could accommodate trillions of such addresses.

He urged African countries to promptly move to IPv6 so they do not find themselves on a one-legged technological horse in the near future.

He explained that AFRINIC is the regional Internet registry (RIR) in charge of the distribution of Internet number resources (IPv4, IPv6 and ASNs) in the African region, adding that IP addresses are critical Internet resources that allow devices to connect to the web.

Ajayi, who urged Nigeria and other African countries to move faster in their migration to IPv6, noted that ATCON would continue to partner with organizations (local and international) that are involved in capacity building as this is one of the ways to sustain growth in the telecom industry.

Already, experts including, a former minister of Communications, Olawale Ige had called for faster approach towards IPv6 migration.

Ige said since IPv4 is not directly compatible with IPv6, meaning that a device connected via IPv4 cannot directly communicate with a device connected using IPv6; Nigerian must strive to join the rest of the world in adopting IPv6.

He said that deploying IPV6 on a global scale is vital to the Internet industry but requires a proactive step on the part of industry players because technology must be upgraded, staff trained, new business plans developed.

"From all indications, it's clear that Nigeria as a country in the global ICT arena needs to integrate our extant Internet technology and architecture with the next generation technologies to be relevant in the world ICT industry.

"The commissioning of the Nigeria Internet Exchange had been a step in the right direction. We are now able to make intra-Nigeria traffic local, save cost, encourage more connections, improve accessibility and affordability as well as meet bandwidth demands for international traffic through the excess capacity provided by private initiatives such as Glo-1 and Main One that complement the NITEL SAT-3 cable," he submitted.

To the Executive Director, Operations, DigitalSENSE Africa Media, Mrs. Nkemdilim Nweke, said Nigerians should start demanding for IPv6 based services, even though IPv4 had since 2011, been exhausted according to the issuing agency, IANA.

She noted that the need to migrate to IPv6 could not be over emphasised because of the growing number of smart devices in the country. She said Internet users, mostly in Nigeria would need to maximise the increase clamour for deployment of broadband in the country, through the use of IPv6v based service offerings.

In one of his presentations on the migration, the Chairman of Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) Gbenga Adebayo said transiting from IPv4 to IPv6 requires making the software routers smooth on switching and transmission sides.

According to him, for the implementation of IPv6, "operators are ready but for some peculiar challenges such as multiple taxation, insecurity of their equipment, high cost of operation in Nigeria, they find it difficult to switch on IPv6, even after receiving licence to operate. "If these are not addressed, he said that the pace of migration may be slowed down than expected.

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Source: AllAfrica

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