How Slow Canadian Adoption from IPV4 to IPV6 Could Affect The Ambitions of Innovators and the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things suggests that there will be somewhere between 20 and 50 billion connected objects and devices by 2015, depending on who you listen to.

However, under the current IPV4 protocol, we’re running out of unique addresses- all 4.3 billion will have been allocated by the fall of this year.

Grant Buckler of The Globe and Mail reported yesterday:

“Canada’s major service providers say they are working on IPv6 support. Shaw Business and Cogeco Data both say they are providing customers with trial access to IPv6 services, while Rogers says it will do so later this year. Telus Corp. says it “will be ready in lots of time for the industry adoption of IPv6.” Bell Canada says it has invested significantly in IPv6 preparations and is helping business customers prepare for the transition.”

How is this issue not being an overnight switch a good thing?

The Globe article also reports: The good news is that this will not be an overnight switch. “We’re probably still looking at 10 years before you start seeing a prevalence of IPv6,” says Jag Bains, director of network operations for Peer 1 Hosting, Inc., a Toronto-based Internet hosting company.

Considering IPV6 is already widespread in Europe and Asia, industry adoption as far as I’m concerned is already here since we have to remember this is the World Wide Web. I have difficulty seeing that IPV4 to IPV6 not being an overnight switch is good news for anyone involved with the Internet and relies on data tracking to do effective business.

ARIN Believes A Faster Switch to IPV6 is Needed

I had a chance to speak to John Curran, the CEO of ARIN (The American Registry for Internet Numbers) a couple of weeks ago and he says that all Internet service providers need to upgrade to the new protocol IPV6 as quickly as they can.

Curran warned that Internet users will be using IPV4 or IPV6 without a dual stack strategy that allows both protocols to work by their ISP may see Internet performance affected, which in turn may also lead to many security issues.

Performance glitches, for example would be noticed by a marketer that is tracking web statistics with users stuck on both protocols, for they wouldn’t be getting the “real results”, which already may be the case considering most of us are still on IPV4 here in Canada.

The world also certainly doesn’t need more security issues in wake of the largest hacking all-time, that affected at least 72 governments as exposed by McAfee yesterday.

However, Curran says that the IPV6 test went amazingly well back on World IPV6 day nearly two months ago, averting “brokenness” fears where Internet users wouldn’t be able to access the whole Internet under IPV6.

Curran continued in saying that ISPs are quickly making changes to support both protocols, but worries that they may not do so in time- and it looks like Canada’s major ISPs have barely begun as I’ve earlier indicated.

The Internet of Things

As for the Internet of Things, since we’re dealing with many small ecosystems where it could be an appliance that is IPV4 trying to connect with a new smartphone device that is IPV6 enabled, the ecosystem in that situation would fail unless the appliance was also upgraded to IPV6. You can read more on the Internet of Things in an earlier post I did here.

However, the Internet of Things does rely on many different communications technologies and isn’t completely affected by the IPV4 and IPV6 protocol switch.

Innovation and Application Development To Be Affected, It Seems 

Carolyn Duffy Marsan of Network World Canada warned in an article back in the May/June 2011 edition  that if IPV6 failed to catch on that life would go on, but innovation and application development would be slowed.

Basically, without a protocol upgrade and a dual stack strategy in place by ISPs, Internet users will get segmented into the old IPV4 protocol or the new IPV6 protocol, despite suggestions by the Globe and Mail article that network providers could stack IP addresses.

Stacking IP addresses may only cause more problems as multiple people will have the same IP and that could have criminal and web usage ramifications should an altercation occur and victimize the wrong person.

IPV6 use is already widespread in Europe and Asia, it’s just that North America stockpiled up on IPV4 addresses, so they won’t run out until the fall.

That might be why Microsoft recently bought over 666,000 existing IPV4 addresses in late April from bankrupt Nortel, anticipating that the deployment to IPV6 would still be in various stages by the fall.

It just may become increasingly expensive to get old IPV4 addresses while those who get IPV6 addresses might just have to sit and wait around for a few years for the right Internet users to come to their site, if the switch were to take ten years as one network provider suggested.

That’s not to say this doesn’t affect those who have mobile devices either- they also have unique addreses.

You can test whether or not your computer or mobile device is IPV6 ready here.