update Telstra has today officially launched Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) connectivity for enterprise, government and wholesale customers after completing critical network upgrade preparations.
The issue of dwindling Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) addresses has haunted internet service providers (ISPs) for a number of years. Panic ensued earlier this year as the last of the 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses were dished out in February. As the number of people and devices connected to the internet continues to grow, it will be vital for the world to shift to IPv6 in order to cope with demand.
To ease the transition to IPv6 for Telstra customers, director of transport and routing David Robertson said the telco had upgraded its internet backbone to be fully dual-stacked, meaning that it handles both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses.
"By dual-stacking IPv4 and IPv6 in our network, customers can opt into IPv6 in their own time, and according to the life cycle upgrade of their existing equipment. Most customers won't notice the change to IPv6 as we will make this as seamless as possible to our customers," he said in a statement.
"We have had a long-term roadmap for deploying IPv6 capability into our networks, and are pleased that the first of many access options are now available for our customers to commence their transition to IPv6. The deployment of IPv6 into the network is an on-going program of work, and we'll make this available for other networks such as DSL and our wireless networks over time."
Telstra said IPv6 was "on the roadmap" to general customers when asked by ZDNet Australia. Interested wholesale, government and enterprise customers will be able to opt in to switch to IPv6 for now; however, Robertson said that he expects that IPv6 will become the standard soon.
"In coming years we expect that IPv6 will become the norm and customers will need to opt out if they wish to use IPv4. However, in the early phases of the transition, we'll be working directly with customers to support them as they make this change," he said.
Rival telco, Internode, has lead the charge with IPv6 implementation in Australia, allowing customers to opt in to IPv6 since 2009. iiNet said earlier this year that it was planning on going through a similar dual-stack implementation of IPv6 later in 2011. ZDNet Australia contacted iiNet for an update, but no response had been received at the time of publication.
Optus told ZDNet Australia that it is "currently carrying IPv6 test traffic across its Core IP Network from several businesses and wholesale customers as well as international carriers". The telco also said it had conducted extensive customer testing for IPv6, but did not detail when it would formally launch IPv6 services.
The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) has committed to having IPv6-ready hardware and software in all agencies by the end of this year, with all systems IPv6 enabled by the end of 2012.
Updated at 4:38pm, 5 September 2011: added Optus comment.