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IPv6-Centric Networking: Innovation Without Constraints

Over the last several months, I’ve been pleased to invite Mark Townsley, Cisco Fellow and recognized expert on Internet Protocol (IP), to discuss IPv6 as a key enabler of the Internet of Everything (IoE). In his series of guest blogs, Mark has explained the basics of IPv6 and why it is important (“Demystifying IPv6”), and discussed some of the technical challenges of moving to this latest version of IP (“Moving to IPv6: Rebuilding the Heart of the Internet Without Missing a Beat”). In this installment, Mark takes a look into the future at some of the things IPv6 will make possible. I’m particularly excited about this, because the unlimited addressing scheme of IPv6 is what will enable the exponential growth of connections among people, process, data, and things that will drive $14.4 trillion in IoE private-sector value over the next decade, and dramatically impact our daily lives. This is Mark’s third and final blog on IPv6.


townsleyIn my last blog, I explored various ways that IPv4 and IPv6 can coexist on the same network —each vital during the global IPv6 transition period, which began in earnest after the World IPv6 Launch last year. Today, I want to highlight new network deployments and designs that I like to call “IPv6-centric.” These architectures go beyond the more conservative approach of a congruent dual-stack IP network. Instead, they are designed and operated from the ground up with IPv6 at the base. While these networks can accommodate IPv4, IPv6 takes center stage.


IPv6-Centric Mobile Networks: Beginning last month, T-Mobile and Metro PCS users in the United States running the latest version of Android software are now provisioned with IPv6 by default, with no IPv4 address from the ISP network. Traffic to IPv6-enabled destinations such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, and Wikipedia will simply use IPv6. Traffic to non-IPv6-enabled sites will be translated to IPv4 after traversing the ISP network. If there are any remaining applications on the device that simply do not know how to handle IPv6, the Android device itself performs and IPv4-to-IPv6 translation internally, so the access network doesn’t see IPv4 at all.

“4G speeds and IoE are driving ‘scale-up’ and ‘scale-out’ in mobile networks. The scarcity of globally routable IPv4 addresses forces a series of compromises that an IPv6-only infrastructure alleviates, providing a solid bedrock to build upon.”

—    Cameron Byrne, T-Mobile Wireless, USA

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