6Sense: Generating New Possibilities in the New Internet.
Produced by: IPv6 Summit, Inc.

Northern Virginia Shows Technology Leadership With IPv6
By Alex Lightman
CEO, IPv6 Summit, Inc.

Most of our attendees are from Northern Virginia, so I'd like to thank you as a group, and get you thinking about your collective might and how much you can accomplish if you get your Congressional delegation out in front on IPv6. Just write and ask them to lead on IPv6. They can and will.

I think Northern Virginia (where I grew up) will end up being the regional center for US IPv6 as a result of five factors:

  1. The highest per capita IPv6 event attendance of any metro area on Earth: a 2,000 man-day edge in exposure to the leading IPv6 information.
  2. The largest concentration of teams with IPv6 transition contracts in the US, including v6 Transition, SI International, Lockheed Martin, MITRE and Booz Allen.
  3. The legacy of US government leadership when new protocols come onto the scene, backed by $2.6 trillion/year in federal spending, with $65 billion in federal IT spending and, out of that, $25 billion/year in Dept. of Defense IT spending, of which Virginia gets a large part.
  4. The DoD and OMB mandates for IPv6, with all leadership in DC, Virginia and nearby Maryland.
  5. Congressional leadership by Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), who chaired the only hearings by a legislative body on IPv6 leadership in the US.

Five elements are still needed to ignite a commercial boom. Virginia's congressional delegation, especially those running for higher office should take note, and take action on these. Northern Virginia was blessed by the IPv4 Internet boom, as we can see from the explosion of building around Dulles Airport with logos like AOL, Nextel, Sprint, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, all of whom where aided and enabled by the Internet. If the Japanese government is correct in its forecast that the IPv6 industry will be worth $1.55 trillion in 2010 (only four years away), and history follows the pattern of the last Internet boom, Northern Virginia would be twice blessed.

Last time the US got about half the world Internet business, and Northern Virginia got about half the US Internet business (start with AOL's $165 billion — locked by its merger with Time Warner, and you go from there). If the US got half of the IPv6 business, this would be about $750 billion a year (and up, after 2010), and Northern Virginia would get $375 billion a year. Please tell me, dear members of Congress, what other issues that you can take leadership on, in which No. Virginia has comparative advantages in, that would give your constituents a better return on your time invested than supporting IPv6?

If Northern Virginia's Congressional delegation (including its two esteemed Senators) got solidly unified behind IPv6 leadership, the entire country would benefit, though Northern Virginia would benefit the most on a per capita basis, and even in absolute terms. However, as I said, there are five things needed to make IPv6, and No. Virginia's IPv6 leadership, a guaranteed success, over other aggressive competitors such as Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Taipei, Bangalore, Shanghai and other metro areas.

  1. Real funding for IPv6, and an end to the nonsense of unfunded mandates for IPv6, which cause no end of sore feelings and have no empirical evidence of ever leading to technology leadership. Real funding means billions, not a few millions, of dollars.
  2. A dedicated Federal IPv6 Transition Office. I really love and honor OMB for its IPv6 guidance. However, anything that's part of the Executive Office of the President is not synonymous with detailed geek, nerd and grunt work. OMB is the primus inter pares, the first among equals, the Goldman Sachs of federal agencies. What's needed is a few hundred network builders who are fueled by pizza and diet cola, and whose exercise comes from Nerf gun battles, who will reply all day and night to questions that range from really dumb ("What is IPv6?") to really hard ("How do we coordinate 1,400 first responders to this San Diego fire?") to really scary ("How do we keep a foreign network of savvy hackers from crashing our network and turning our servers into zombies?"). Japan has over 300 full-time federal employees working solely on its IPv6 transition. Korea has over 70 — proportionate to its GDP. This would be the equivalent of over 700 US federal IPv6 employees. If Congress doesn't make a Federal IPv6 Transition Office it won't happen. Without a Federal IPv6 Transition Office the US will end up with millions of unanswered questions and the equivalent of dozens of different national railroad gauge standards. What we need is the coordination that allowed the Golden Spike to be driven, connecting railroads from east and west with perfect precision as we did at Promontory Point in 1869, the last spike of the first transcontinental railroad.
  3. A definition of IPv6 Capable that is 100% home grown and not a leftover from IPv6 standards invented elsewhere.
  4. Stretch goals and visionary proposals. If Congress is going to get involved with IPv6, rather than just appropriating real money, then it should demand some real achievements, like true interoperability between DoD, the National Guard and the tens of thousands of first responder or emergency responder teams. Like IPv6-enabled sensors that will tell everyone who should know when a nuke or a bio weapon has been set off. Like IPv6 static addresses being given to every single citizen, just like static phone numbers, so that we can stop the flood of spam, identity theft and spoofing, and allow everyone to get tagged with the reputation they deserve for their Internet citizenship. Over 40 million credit card records were stolen this year because Congress has been too soft and demanded too little from the Internet community. Time to demand a huge upgrade, but also to pay to play.
  5. The world's greatest IPv6 test center. We need an objective and effective center that can test and demonstrate what "IPv6 capable" really means, especially in today's complex multifunction consumer and government products.

If these five things came to pass, and the Federal IPv6 Transition Office and the IPv6 test center were based in Northern Virginia, I think that we'd see a commercial explosion in IPv6 that would be comparable to the IPv4 boom of the late 1990s.