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NTIA Seeks Input as it Develops Initiatives to Increase IPv6 Adoption

August 18, 2016 by Ashley Heineman, Telecommunications Policy Specialist, Office of International Affairs

We are on the verge of an explosion in the number of Internet-connected devices, from smartwatches to connected refrigerators, furniture and thermostats. Some experts predict that there will be as many as 200 billion connected devices around the world by 2020, or about 25 devices per person.

Many of those devices will need an IP address to connect to the Internet, but the legacy Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) supports only about 4.3 billion IP addresses. Current demand has all-but-exhausted the global supply of IPv4 addresses. Luckily, the Internet technical community has been developing the next-generation Internet Protocol for nearly two decades. Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) offers 2128 IP addresses – that’s more than 340 undecillion addresses, or 340 followed by 36 digits.

The pace of IPv6 adoption has picked up recently, but only about a third of the Internet services in the United States are IPv6 capable. As IPv4 addresses become more scarce, companies and other organizations that have yet to transition to IPv6 may find it difficult to expand their Internet presence.

As part of our effort to encourage greater IPv6 adoption, NTIA is requesting comment from organizations that have implemented IPv6. We want to hear from all stakeholders, particularly those who have implemented IPv6, about the factors and circumstances that influence the decision to adopt and use the protocol and what NTIA can do to promote greater adoption of IPv6.

Some of the questions we’re asking are: What are the benefits of and obstacles related to implementing IPv6? What factors contribute to an organization’s decision to implement IPv6? What is the anticipated return on an IPv6-related investment? How long does the planning process for IPv6 implementation take, and what are the different types of costs involved? Those wishing to provide input have until October 3, 2016 to submit comments via email to ipv6@ntia.doc.gov.

NTIA will use the input we receive from this RFC to guide and inform our efforts, as well as a potential contribution to the IPv6 Best Practice Forum, which is part of the intercessional work program at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). Participants in the forum will convene to exchange ideas and discuss best practices on IPv6 implementation during the December IGF2016 event in Guadalajara, Mexico.

NTIA’s past efforts to promote the transition to IPv6 include holding a public workshop in 2010 and the release in 2011 of the IPv6 Readiness Tool for Businesses, a comprehensive checklist for businesses preparing to deploy IPv6. We hope to build on this work to ensure U.S. businesses and other organizations have the infrastructure in place today to support tomorrow’s Internet-based innovations.