World IPv6 Day starts without Bell

One of the country’s biggest Internet providers to businesses, independent ISPs, governments and consumers isn’t part of a global readiness test for the Ipv6 communications protocol.

BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada isn’t participating in World IPv6 Day (which started at 8 p.m. Tuesday and runs for 24 hours), a company spokesman said. No explanation was given.

On the other hand Telus Corp. and Rogers Communications Inc. will have at least one Web site set up to test for problems with their networks and interoperability with PCs and servers that connect to networks enabled with the older IPv4 protocol.

It isn’t known how many Canadian organizations will participate in the test. All they have to do is set up one Web site that can handle both IPv6 and IPv4 traffic in a dual-stack configuration, not enable their entire networks, and alert customers to test the site.
The goal is to test interoperability between the two protocols with hundreds of people who try to connect, discover any security problems and give an indication of whether the organization’s integration plan is sound.
IPv6 is needed because the Internet is running out of IP addresses that use the IPv4 standard. Toonk expects that in weeks the pool of IPv4 addresses will be depleted. IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses and can support 4.3 billion devices connected directly to the Internet. IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses and supports a virtually unlimited number of devices.

Andree Toonk, a network analyst with the BCNet research network in British Columbia who blogs regularly on IPv6 readiness, says the number of organizations who have started doing work is still small but growing.

“If you look at the routing tables of how many Canadian networks are v6 ready, it’s now at the 13 per cent level,” he said Tuesday. “That means that 13 per cent of the Canadian networks have an Ipv6 network that is routed. That doesn’t mean there’s any traffic on it, but that’s one of the first things you have to do.”

Many of those are university and research networks such as BCNet and CANARIE, but they also include startup carrier Wind Mobile, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), Waterloo, Ont.-based traffic management equipment maker Sandvine Inc. and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, which has a huge network of servers that runs its services for enterprise customers.

Hundreds of organizations are listed on the Internet Society’s participation page including giant content providers such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Akamai, but that’s only a list of organizations that have put their names there. Many others are just quietly participating.

A number of U.S. federal agencies are listed as participants, but no Canadian federal departments. In an e-mail last month Anabel Linblad, a senior communications advisor at Treasury Board, said there is no planned government-wide participation in World Ipv6 Day, although individual departments have the discretion to be a part on their own.

Treasury Board, which includes the office of the federal chief information officer, is “actively working on establishing a migration strategy to enable transition from Ipv4 to Ipv6 for the government of Canada,” she wrote.

Rogers has set up an IPv6 test site but chose not to be on the Internet Society’s roster. “We are not listed on the participant index because our [main] Web site won’t be Ipv6 [ready],” company spokesman Sara Holland said in an email.

The cable and wireless carrier says it has been working since 2009 to prepare its networks and is participating in Ipv6 standards bodies and equipment manufacturer trials, as well as with fellow Canadian cabelcos Shaw Communications and Videotron Ltee., to prepare for a broad roll out of dual-stack services.

On the other hand Telus said it’s main site,, is IPpv6-ready.

Severa; days before the test a number of organizations sent out press releases to make sure the public know they are working on adoption. Among them were Vancouver’s Peer 1 Hosting, which says it is in the middle of preparing its network to run Ipv4 and Ipv6 concurrently on its platform, and Videotron, which says it began implementing Ipv6 on June 1 for residential customers who have a Wi-Fi router.

That is one of the problems facing ISPs – why rush to enable their networks for Ipv6 when customer routers can’t handle it?Major manufactures like Cisco Systems Inc. are working on that, but the vast number of consumer routers in homes is a problem.

Another reason why some ISPs may feel no pressure is that they have a stock of Ipv4 addresses.

Toonk said the question of how fast an organization should enable its network to run Ipv6 isn’t clear. “Some regions of the world are running out of Ipv4 addresses faster than others,” he said. “There will be gateways that will translate between the two, but they will likely have a negative impact on performance. So its important that you make some of your public services available over Ipv6. I don’t want to put a timeline on it , but for many of the orgs I work with they feel the time is right to start looking into this. The sooner they start the more time it gives them to do it appropriately.”

“You have to give yourself time to do this, and that’s why you have to start early. Many people have been preaching this for years, and its coming closer. But it’s really hard. There’s no real deadline because going to be hacks around it – translation mechanisms between Ipv4 and Ipv6. But those are really not the way you want to go.”

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