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Ten Reasons to Advocate Accelerated Adoption of IPv6
by Alex Lightman








Ad Hoc Networking

Spectrum Utilization

Battery Life







Ease of Use




If you indicate expertise or even interest in IPv6, you will sooner or latter be asked to give a PowerPoint presentation and why your colleagues should care. You might also want to be pro-active, and offer to give talks on how IPv6 will potentially impact and enhance your specific industry. As we move towards the US IPv6 Summit 2004 we see new presenters coming to into prominence who are focused on new and novel applications, services, network design, systems, and training, especially related to the Dept. of Defense IPv6 Transition.

In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams posits that we go through three stages: Survival (How do we eat?), Inquiry (Why do we eat?), and Sophistication (Where do we eat?). In the IPv6 realm, we seem to be beginning the shift from the first to the second stages, from "How do we connect everyone through the Internet, including all the cars, mobile phones, and billions of other devices?" - the answer is, in part, to deploy IPv6 - to "Why do we need to accelerate adoption of IPv6?"

An Amazon.com search on IPv6 indicates that there are sixteen books on IPv6 available, containing a total of over 4,000 pages of information. Below are ten reasons for IPv6 adoption, with a short explanation and in several cases links for further information.

Mobility: Some 1.5 billion people now have mobile phones, with 2 billion by 2007 (only 27 months away), according to Simon Beresford-Wylie, Nokia's senior vice president for Asia-Pacific. Currently there are fewer than 250 million IPv4 address available (though some companies might give Class A blocks back, but no one can plan for this). There are not enough IPv4 addresses to give to each mobile phone user, much less to deploy large scale always-on service required for GPRS and 3G. Therefore, there is no simple end-to-end security, limiting the ability to use mobile phones for m-commerce and more. These are huge penalties to a large scale deployment of an always-on, easy to use, brand new mobile service. There are also new features for mobility. According to the Internet Engineering Task Force, "Mobile IPv6 (MIPv6) specifies routing support to permit an IPv6 host to continue using its "permanent" home address as it moves around the Internet." For more information, see http://www.ietf.org/html.charters/mip6-charter.html

Security: IPv6 supports built-in authentication and confidentiality, and, unlike IPv4, IPv6 does not specify all possible protocol features. A sender can add additional features to a datagram. In a word in which hackers have their own magazines on newsstands (2600) and can share "best practices" via the web, the 800 million people on the Internet, eventually rising to billions, need better security than can be provided by a 31 year old protocol in which IPSec is optional. For the 8 million or so in US and Coalition Partner militaries using the Internet, security could be the difference between no one killed (the Taliban was routed with no American casualties due to hostile fire) and thousands killed. Caveat: IPSec in IPv6 still needs collaborative work.

Ad Hoc Networking: In Nagoya, Japan, hundreds of taxis with IPv6-enabled windshield wipers converge after getting a signal indicating rainfall in one part of the town. People's desire for cabs goes up exponentially with wetness and cabs share this information with others. If every car was provided with an IPv6 address, we could develop what I've called a "World Wide Wagon Train" in which every car could send information, without going through a middle man, to any other vehicles equipped to enter into a session with another v6 vehicle. This could enable thousands of tiny little improvements, in fuel efficiency, wait times, mean time between failures, and things we haven't imagined yet. For more info, see the books or papers by Charlie Perkins http://people.nokia.net/charliep/

Spectrum Utilization: Even if we could give an IPv4 address to hundreds of millions of mobile phones (GSM leaders asked and were told NO), the triangular routing of Mobile IPv4 will eat up 50% of (expensive) spectrum. Given that licensed wireless spectrum can cost billions, and that 3G and beyond will be increasing per capita bandwidth consumption by orders of magnitude, it makes sense to plan now to minimize urban spectrum use in the future.

Battery Life: This one will probably come as a surprise to anyone who wasn't present at the IPv6 Summit in Santa Monica, June 2004, but Nokia's John Loughney found that batteries on mobile phones lasted twice as long when they had IPv6 addresses vs. private addresses given by NAT (Network Address Translation). When a mobile phone has a private address, it receives an endless series of "heartbeats" or "keep alives". The carrier's NAT wants to assign the private number to another phone, and so it keeps "checking the roast", but this burns up your battery. With an IPv6 address once the connection is made there is no need to keep "checking the roast" every few seconds. NTT DoCoMo's pioneering launch of 3G (FOMA) failed to meet objectives in large part because of short battery lives. DoCoMo's market cap would be billions of dollars higher, in my opinion, if they'd been more successful, and IPv6 could have made the difference.

Identity: The telephone system is the world's largest and best known peer-to-peer system: you dial from one (relatively) permanent number to another. With caller ID you can see the number of someone you don't want to talk to and can screen your call. Without ubiquitous IP addresses (for every phone, every car, etc.) you can't tell which device, and person, that you can give permission to, or block. Identity is vital to security, billing, and killing spam by making a trusted list for everyone so that there aren't nearly a billion targets.

Ease of Use: At the Consumer Electronics Show gala dinner January 2004 the CEO of Philips said that over 30% of all large consumer electronics purchases were returned because people said they couldn't figure out how to make them work. The computer industry solved one major complexity (downloading drivers) by agreeing on USB for plug and play. IPv6 has stateless autoconfiguration, and billions of potential configuration hassles will not happen because IP addresses are provided automatically. And that will probably increase the number of customers who keep their purchases.

Connectivity: IPv6 will allow for six billion people to connect with each other within the next generation, creating hundreds of new industries that are currently the size of clubs or research projects. IPv6 will also capture the attention of the mass media, leading to a future frenzy of investment and publicity towards extending the Internet.

Interoperability: By simply including an IPv6 address in every consumer electronic device, car, mobile phone, medical instrument, and in tiny chips, we develop what Hitachi has called the "traceable economy" in which we can see where information come from and goes to, creating new feedback loops. Interoperability between almost everything manufactured is something we've never experienced, and it will make living in the future more fun.

Adaptability: I think often about what makes one "smart car" smarter than another "smart car" (or smart house, etc.). We need a definition of smartness that can be more or less measured. I think "the ability to reconfigure, adapt, and handle new and novel situations, measured in the number of different states that a system can take" is a starting point, and connecting most devices on IPv6 networks allows for adaptability, to handle new and novel situations.

Taken collectively, these ten attributes lead us towards what I call The Ever Smarter World. Let me know your ideas on IPv6 advantages, and how your advocacy efforts are going.