News Column

When IPv6 changed the world

August 25, 2014

John Eigelaar

As 2013 drew to a close, Deloitte unleashed their Tech Trends report that emphasised how important it is for the business to plan for IPv6. This is not something that is exclusive to the bright internet lights of the USA, China and Europe, it is essential to connected computing across the globe and South Africa is still far, far behind.

South African Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have the ability and infrastructure to engage in the transition, but uptake is academic. Why? There has been no pressure to change over and, in spite of the advantages of running an IPv6 network, businesses are forced to stagger through the network protocols and problems presented by IPv4.

According to the same report mentioned above, Deloitte points out how connected computing has become an inherent part of business and pleasure and address spaces are running out. Now that devices are everywhere and everything can be connected, especially with the rising star that is Internet of Things (IoT), addresses are the key to maintaining connectivity and are now a scarce resource in IPv4.

The report stated, "IPv6 is a bit like Y2K - with an ironic twist. A looming but unknown deadline, but where the repercussions of no action are precise and potentially catastrophic." (Get the report from

It isn't the government that's causing the problem, it is that South African ISPs haven't taken responsibility to create an IPv6 infrastructure and today there are only single IPv6 prefixes available from the local ISPs. When consider how it is more secure, bypasses the issues of network segmentation, allows for unlimited address capability and can open up business opportunities internationally, it is worth being concerned about the slow delivery in South Africa.

While organisations won't necessarily feel the sting today or in a year, give it two to three years and the issues will start to crop up. Europe has just handed out their last IPv4 block and from now on all new ISPs in Europe will be IPv6, which will slowly start to force the issue here so we can do business. In the Far East, if you don't have IPv6 on your equipment, you can't export there as it is the standard.

The question now is when the business can expect support from the ISP - there was hype in 2010 and a show and a conference, but five years later there is only static. There is an old Chinese curse that says, "May you live in interesting times," and for the internet that day has arrived...

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Source: Bizcommunity (South Africa)

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