Internode will sell only Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) dual-stack hardware and connections from next year.
(Blue grid image by Torley Olmstead, CC BY-SA 2.0)
The internet provider was the first telco in Australia to offer full IPv6 connectivity in 2008 and has seen about 1 per cent of subscribers, or 200 users, take up the service since then.
IPv6 is the replacement for the current standard, IPv4, and allows significantly more web addresses. The number of numeric addresses is dwindling under IPv4, and there were only 5 per cent remaining as of Monday, 18 October.
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, which controls IP address allotments, has placed the date for IPv4 address exhaustion sometime next year, although experts are quick to downplay suggestions of a land grab or abrupt disruption to internet services.
Internode managing director Simon Hackett said that the uptake of IPv6 is good and that the company will soon turn on IPv6 services and offer only dual-stack routers that handle both IPv4 and IPv6 to new customers.
"So we're very happy that [IPv6 adoption] numbers represent useful initial progress. The point here is that we're making our service 100 per cent ready for the transition, and so when it happens the rest of our customers essentially won't notice — while the customers of other [providers] will have a potentially rough ride," Hackett said.
"All new connections past the point where we turn on dual-stack will receive dual-stack service by default."
Hackett said that IPv4 exhaustion will be gradual as providers milk remaining addresses using remaining stock and technologies such as Network Address Translation (NAT).
"July 2011 is the current estimated date when the last ranges of IPv4 addresses are handed to regional registries. They'll then exhaust their stocks progressively as they allocate those remaining stocks to [providers]," Hackett said.
"At that point, in perhaps another year from now, we'll start seeing some [providers] who have run out totally and will either stop providing new IPv4 addresses or start using carrier-grade NAT to share IPv4 addresses in the network layer."
Technologies like NAT will work, but have problems and will require compromises on subscribers, Hackett said.
He said that Internode expects to be able to allocate dual-stack IPv4 and IPv6 native addresses to new customers for "some years to come".