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IPv6 switch: Is your equipment ready?

Some firms say software and hardware compatibility is preventing their move to IPv6, a claim Ripe's IPv6 Working Group co-chairman Marco Hogewoning investigates
Written by Marco Hogewoning, Contributor

Many organisations are complaining that software and hardware compatibility is hampering their move to IPv6. Marco Hogewoning investigates the IPv6-readiness of some vendors' customer premises equipment, including routers and switches.

A recent IPv6 global study by the European Commission has revealed that, despite increasing awareness about IPv4 depletion, some organisations are still on the fence when it comes to adopting IPv6.

When asked about the barriers for IPv6 deployment, about 60 percent of those organisations that had requested an IPv6 allocation from one of the regional internet registries said the lack of IPv6 compatible hardware and software was hindering deployment.

As less than six percent of unallocated IPv4 addresses remains, is the lack of vendor support really standing in the way of global IPv6 adoption?

Testing method
The tests we ran are best described as consumer panel testing. We checked if a feature is present and tried to verify if the feature actually works. This approach is by no means foolproof, as subtle differences in your local set-up can dramatically change behaviour.

Our aim is to provide a useful guide, but we strongly advise you to verify that the devices work correctly in your own environment before making a final decision to buy. Most vendors are usually happy to organise a demonstration of their equipment. If you are looking to purchase equipment in retail, we also advise you to check the returns policy of the retailer.

We consider customer premises equipment (CPE) or home gateway to be a device that can act as a gateway between the infrastructure of your local provider and your home network. Such devices usually come with a variety of interfaces and can either plug into your DSL or cable connection or can be placed behind a box supplied by the provider to introduce additional functionality such as NAT44 — that is, IPv4 to IPv6 network address translation, VoIP or Wi-Fi.

The IPv6 behaviour of such devices is described in Basic Requirements for IPv6 Customer Edge Routers by the Internet Engineering Task Force.

In contrast with IPv4, when using IPv6 you are likely to get one or more subnets assigned by your provider, which means there is no longer a need for NAT. Although this re-establishes the end-to-end model of the internet, it does mean that your hosts are exposed directly to the internet.

For added security most of the devices described here come with basic filtering capabilities, often referred to as a firewall. Recommendations on these filters are described in the document Recommended Simple Security Capabilities in Customer Premises Equipment for Providing Residential IPv6 Internet Service by the IETF.

We have done our best to make this list complete and continue refining and adding to it. If you find anything missing or the equipment you are using isn't listed, or if you have any other feedback, please contact us at labs@ripe.net.

But please keep in mind that the goal of this list is...

...to identify those CPEs that are suitable for mass deployment. We like the hacks with custom software patches but that would probably make the list endless.

The matrix below lists the features and various models of CPE on which we have information. The status fields can have five different values.

  • Unknown — no colour Neither the vendor nor the community can confirm the feature is present.
  • No — grey Vendor or testing confirms the feature is not supported.
  • Claimed by vendor — orange The vendor has confirmed the feature is present. However, we haven't heard any reports from the community confirming whether it actually works and we haven't been able to test it ourselves.
  • Broken — grey Feedback from the community or test results indicate the feature is there but not working.
  • Buggy — light blue Feedback from the community or test results indicate the feature is showing irregular behaviour or is not working as expected.
  • Confirmed — yellow Based on community feedback and testing we can confirm the feature is there and working as expected.

Ripe's IPv6 CPE survey. Credit: Ripe NCC

This is an ongoing project, and we are seeking feedback from the Ripe community and as many vendors as possible. We have tried our best to keep the information up to date, but for the latest information you should always consult the documentation provided by the equipment manufacturer.

Most of the software products listed here are under development and are actively being worked on. Check the manufacturer's website to verify you are using the latest version available.

Marco Hogewoning is the co-chairman of the Ripe IPv6 Working Group. The Ripe NCC is the regional internet registry for Europe, Middle East and parts of Central Asia, and supports the infrastructure of the Internet in these region

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