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IPv6 at the OECD Ministerial Meeting, Seoul, June 2008

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24 September 2008 - A key goal of the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) at the OECD Ministerial Meeting in Seoul was raising awareness of IPv4 depletion and IPv6 deployment issues. As well as discussing the existing IP address distribution system, of which the RIRs are a key part, the event was an important opportunity to examine the role of governments and other public sector stakeholders in these issues.

Geoff Huston, APNIC Chief Scientist, participated in a panel discussion on the convergence of networks and related services with a range of ministers and CEOs. The objective of this session was to discuss policy and regulatory frameworks and to identify where changes are needed to foster convergence and the next generation of networks, understand the implications of convergence for consumers and highlight the opportunities and challenges for transitioning to the newer version of the Internet protocol, IPv6, and its role in enabling growth of the Internet.

The meeting closed with the ministers releasing a declaration that stated that the adoption of IPv6 would be encouraged, in particular through its timely adoption by governments as well as large private sector users of IPv4 addresses. This was a positive outcome from the perspective of the RIRs who issued a press release at the start of the OECD meeting that detailed some of the key issues relating to the depletion of IPv4 addresses and the transition to IPv6. Key sections of this important and influential release are quoted below:

 

The RIRs are responsible for managing the allocation, assignment and registration of Internet number resources (IPv4 addresses, IPv6 addresses and Autonomous System (AS) Numbers).

With approximately 85% of all available IPv4 Internet addresses already in use by May 2008, experts predict that the remaining stock of unallocated IPv4 addresses will be consumed by around 2011. This may have an impact on new Internet users and users of Internet devices that are not IPv6 enabled. In contrast, the pool of available IPv6 numbers exceeds 340 billion billion billion billion.

Internet addresses are allocated on an "as-needed" basis. Firstly, they are allocated to the RIRs from a central pool and then each RIR distributes them within their region. This system prevents any one country from running out of addresses significantly before its neighbours within the same region, and ensures that the supply to all regions is maintained for as long as possible.

Geoff Huston, Chief Scientist at APNIC will call for a significant acceleration of investment in the infrastructure vital for effective IPv6 adoption, as part of his speech on Internet industry challenges:

"At present, only a small percentage of the Internet infrastructure is IPv6 compatible. Significant investment in the infrastructure is required to make the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 viable. The cost of migrating the Internet infrastructure to IPv6 is estimated to be anywhere between USD50 billion and USD75 billion depending on the efficiency with which the appropriate infrastructure is readied. The longer investment in this infrastructure is deferred, the greater the risk of Internet growth slowing down and additional costs being incurred."

Axel Pawlik, Managing Director of the RIPE NCC states: "IPv6 is vital to the Internet economy. In order to sustain this rapidly growing, global industry, we urge all stakeholders to help accelerate the widespread deployment of IPv6. We've already seen the EU make a positive declaration of intent regarding IPv6 planning and we're confident that IPv6 space will provide a platform for innovation in IP-based services and applications as long as the infrastructure is made ready."

Tarek Mohamed Kamel, Minister for the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Egypt, will be speaking alongside Geoff Huston at the OECD Ministerial Meeting. Kamel comments: "The current dialogue on IPv6 between global governments, business leaders, technical experts and academics is crucial to ensure that users around the world continue to benefit from the innovation that new infrastructure and new Internet space will bring. Our efforts to ensure the free and open access attributed to the development of the Internet must be continued so that we can fully realise the benefits in the near future."