6Sense: Generating New Possibilities in the New Internet.
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Top Ten Impressions and Inspirations from the First U.S. Federal IPv6 Hearing
by Alex Lightman, CEO, IPv6 Summit, Inc.

Here are some of the top points from the Congressional Hearing on IPv6 that I think should be considered by the IPv6 Community:

1. There are over 500,000 elected officials in the U.S., all of whom are supposed to take an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and work toward "a more perfect union" and more. Only one elected official, Congressman Tom Davis, has actually acted to maintain U.S. leadership in the Internet, based on supporting a transition to IPv6. If IPv6 happens in the U.S. and we maintain Internet leadership, Congressman Tom Davis deserves a great deal of credit. What are the rest of the elected officials waiting for? An invitation? OK… You are hereby all urgently invited to help.

2. 6Sense readers were very prominent at the hearing. Those of you who came helped meet one of the goals that every Chairman has for a hearing: to fill the room with interested participants. Active participation in learning the issues and taking personal responsibility is the essence of democracy, even more than voting. Every seat at the hearing was taken, and there was standing room only. Staff commented that they were surprised that virtually everyone stayed through to the very end of the hearing. Woody Allen said that 80% of success is showing up. You showed up. You were successful. Thanks!

3. One of the most important witnesses was Karen Evans, director of e-Government initiatives at the Office of Management and Budget, who has been considering and investigating IPv6 for over a year, and who introduced what the press has characterized as a "requirement for the federal government to move to IPv6 by June, 2008." While the details of what Ms. Evans testified to (see for yourself, below) are somewhat different, press coverage has a way of making impression into reality, and creating a virtuous cycle. Still, I am in awe of the power of hearings to get things to go from being stuck to getting them unstuck, and then moving into high gear. I'm also pleased that there appears to be no pushback to GAO for its report or to OMB for its memo, which indicates that the perspective of the pro-IPv6 movement is somewhat obvious to other decision makers, and the Federal transition seems to be a question of when, not whether.

4. The press coverage of the hearings has been fair and positive and, other than implying there is a clear and immediate Federal mandate for IPv6 (there is not, though I wish there were), but some of the online commentary has been way off base. If anyone wants to argue the case that there will be little or no economic impact to the issue of U.S. IPv6 leadership vs. followership, and that millions of jobs are not at stake, please write up the argument for 6Sense (with proper identification), and I will publish it unedited.

5. The government panel, which included representatives from OMB, GAO, and the Dept. of Defense was somewhat timid on the mandate issue (with the admirable exception of Major General Moran, of the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff). I was surprised that the GAO, using the only visual aids of the hearing, came across as skeptical on IPv6 by showing what they testified was an IPv6 security flaw -- several people, including Tony Hain of Cisco, mentioned this was also a flaw in IPv4 and Microsoft Windows, and was not specific to IPv6. I had hoped that the U.S. government might have said, "We haven't done enough to secure America's networks, and we recommend doing much more," or something like that. But at least the process has started.

6. The industry panel was more specific and action-oriented, and there were disagreements, with two major ones elicited through astute questioning by Chairman Davis. The first issue was whether there is an IPv4 address shortage, with one view that there is no official shortage, and an opposing view that this is so in part because there is no free market for addresses. I asked whether General Motors could get a block of 50 million IPv4 addresses, and the reply was that GM would be advised to use IPv6 addresses. The second issue was whether "the free market" or "the marketplace" would take care of the IPv6 transition in the U.S., or whether the federal government should play a significant role. The "market-driven" notion could be considered false from several perspectives: the U.S. federal government has always been a part of any successful information technology and infrastructure, going back to the US post office, and through canals, the telegraph, telephone, roads, highways, radar, satellites, the Internet, etc. Also, there has never, ever been a free market in place with respect to the Internet, in the U.S. or abroad, starting with Air Force funding for Paul Baran at RAND to conceive of packet switching, Dr. Larry Robert's $15 million budget for the ARPAnet, the Cerf/Kahn development of TCP/IP, NSFnet, The Dept. of Commerce contract with ICANN, etc. Like it or not, the federal government is involved with the Internet and IPv6, and all that's left to decide, as mentioned in the hearing title, is whether the US will be a leader, or a follower. I think the U.S. should be an Internet leader. Does anyone else think so?

7. The most interesting thing I heard at the hearing was not on the record. I asked Mr. Barber of NTT/Verio what percentage of the IPv6 traffic was outside of the U.S. He estimated that it was over 99%, with over 90% of world IPv6 traffic in Japan, and most of the rest in Korea. Any American who says that the U.S., which once had 99% of IPv4 traffic, will have an equivalent position in the IPv6 world – starting from less than 1% of traffic – has an almost impossible argument to make, unless there is massive federal effort and funding to accelerate the IPv6 transition. I challenge any one of our readers to show how "the marketplace" – which is made up of international companies that must claim to be equally loyal to all their customers, even foreign governments – will help the U.S. maintain Internet leadership, when from a historical perspective, the U.S. has already lost the next Internet game. Some "globalists" might think it irrelevant which nations are Internet leaders, but without the U.S. and its vast resources to compel cooperation across the spectrum of thousands of issues over the span of decades that IPv6 will be in operation, a degree of regional competition and fragmentation could arise that could tear at the very fabric of the Internet.

8. As I testified at the hearing, many other nations with very different political agendas, cultures, and even laws will seek to leverage their market dominance in IPv6 politically over the U.S. and the rest of the world . For instance, a major disconnect may be coming with respect to RFC 3041, an initiative to keep IPv6 users anonymous, which some in Europe say is essential. Elected and appointed officials knowledgeable about IPv6 must be involved in such discussions, in order for there to be legitimacy for any high-impact decisions. Unfortunately, the U.S. still hasn't picked its IPv6 leader to talk with other governments, and, until it does, those governments that have IPv6 leaders (notably China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, and Sweden) will be the only ones able to represent a coherent, consistent negotiating position vis-a-vis standards with potentially explosive political connotations and national security impact.

9. Going forward, I strongly urge 6Sense readers to participate in reducing vagueness of national IPv6 plans by asking about HEAD COUNTS. The easiest way to distinguish a real IPv6 transition effort with substance from one that has only the appearance of an effort (which is what the U.S. has now) is to look at how many full time equivalents (FTEs) there are dedicated to the IPv6 transition. For the Department of Defense (the only U.S. agency that is really working on IPv6), there are eight FTEs working in the DoD IPv6 Transition Office, with two administrative staff and four FTEs each in the Army, Air Force and Navy/Marine IPv6 Transition Offices, for a total in the neighborhood of 22 people. There appear to be ZERO FTEs in the rest of the U.S. federal government combined. The impact is significant: The Dept. of Commerce was asked to testify at the hearings, but declined, saying it had nothing to offer. So much for assuming that someone is figuring out the economic impact of IPv6 "leadership vs. laggardship." The best estimate that I have heard for the headcount needed for IPv6 is that a U.S. Federal IPv6 Transition Office should have at least 50 government personnel and 150-200 contractors working exclusively on the IPv6 transition, just to make the federal government switch to the New Internet. There is an irrefutable need for additional dedicated people to be working on the IPv6 transition, and the U.S. should budget and appropriate funds accordingly.

10. A U.S. federal transition to IPv6, even with the 200 FTEs just mentioned, will not in itself achieve Congressman Davis' goal of sustained Internet leadership for the United States. The U.S. government needs to involve and partner with thousands of leaders, thousands of companies, thousands of universities and trade schools, thousands of nonprofits, and dozens of foreign governments and transnational organizations. However, to do that effectively and intelligently, it needs to have a properly resourced organization and leadership for all of those entities to interact with.

My suggestion for what the U.S. should do to structure itself for IPv6 leadership and an accelerated IPv6 transition is summarized in the diagram that was submitted along with my testimony; see http://www.usipv6.com/6sense/2005/jul/Organization_of_IPv6_Efforts.pdf

I believe that the U.S. should create a Federal IPv6 Transition Office and fund it so that it can be staffed with 50 full-time equivalents and supported by 150 to 200 contractors. I believe that this office should lead the creation of four other entities:

a. the IPv6 Information Sharing Environment that would gather digital copies of all IPv6 materials and make them available from one portal, and explain all IPv6 efforts via

b. an IPv6 press office;

c. an IPv6 Association to collaborate with industry, academia, standards organizations, Internet registries, and others;

d. a Coalition IPv6 Coordination Office to work with the 50 or so other countries that recognize the need for national government cooperation, including but not limited to military, intelligence, commercial, and scientific alignment on IPv6 and the New Internet.

That's my recommendation for IPv6 leadership in the U.S., which I believe is necessary to maintain the existing Internet-related institutions that have successfully brought us to one billion Internet users in 32 years, and now need to transition to a point where we can easily add five billion more Internet users in half that time, while moving major applications and media such as wireline and wireless telephony, television, radio, music, movies, medical monitoring, multiplayer games, security cameras, and e-commerce all over to IPv6.

If you have comments, please send them to alex@usipv6.com