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

Ten Ways to Advance IPv6 Adoption in the US and its Coalition Partner Nations
Alex Lightman, CEO, IPv6 Summit, Inc.

I recently discussed participation in the Coalition Summit for IPv6 with a number of companies. Some of them were sponsors of past IPv6 Summits we've organized. Others are just getting started with IPv6. Nearly all have the same questions: When will the IPv6 market happen in the US? When will we be able to attribute product sales to IPv6?
Many of these companies have invested substantial funds in research, development, testing, and certification, for a period of up to six years, and are now getting upper management pressure to show a return on investment. Several have difficulty in being able to do so, and some say that their companies may stop selling IPv6 products in the US or even temporarily halt IPv6 efforts. The military contractor equivalent is to request a waiver, enabling a company to postpone for a year implementing IPv6 in what is provided to the Dept. of Defense, despite the mandate to include IPv6-capable products in anything that links to the Global Information Grid from October 2003 onwards. The logic of a vicious spiral is set in motion: “I won’t include IPv6 in my products or advertise IPv6,” say the sellers, while buyers are not informed of the opportunities or advantages of IPv6, so they don’t ask for it, leading to a state of affairs in the US in which buyers do not ask for IPv6 and sellers do not offer it.
The outcome of a continued stalemate in IPv6 is the lack of a healthy market for IPv6. Larry Roberts indicates in his article in this issue of 6Sense that government must mandate security. I would add: there will be an economic disaster in the US without a government mandate for IPv6 that (as Dr. Roberts also advises) does not have both a carrot and a stick.

As the organizer of four IPv6 events held within driving distance of the facilities of a certain large aerospace company (including its corporate headquarters), I can confirm that not one person from this company has attended a US IPv6 Summit in the last three years. It’s therefore not surprising that this same aerospace company would ask for a waiver and state that it cannot integrate IPv6 into its offerings. However, giving this giant company a waiver at no cost is simply unfair and inequitable to the companies that are making investments in getting their employees and even customers interested and informed about IPv6.  With the limited exceptions of Northrop Grumman and Boeing, no large defense contractor has bothered to participate in IPv6 Summits, and the Department of Defense should bump up the costs of non-compliance, such as withholding payment of 5% of a contract until no waivers are requested. This is not to say that IPv6 Summits are the only place to learn about IPv6, but if you don’t interact with the 50 or more experts available at one of these events, where else do you get up to speed? Google searches of press releases?
John Stenbit, former CIO of the Department of Defense, estimated that the cost of managing the transition to IPv6 by 2008 could reach about $250 million. So far less than 5% of that has been allocated, figuratively turning the carrot that could be enticing industry towards IPv6 into a peanut. So, there is no carrot, and no stick, and thus the US DoD risks missing its own stated objectives. As I said in my keynote speech at the US IPv6 Summit 2004 in Reston, VA, this has consequences:

  • If the US DoD does not properly fund the IPv6 transition and protect it from cannibalization, the DoD IPv6 transition will not be complete by 2008.

  • If the DoD does not look like it will meet its own mandate, the political capital will not be sufficient for OMB to get a federal mandate for IPv6 within the decade.

  • If there is no federal mandate for IPv6, the US cannot lead in IPv6 compared to countries that do have or soon will have federal mandates with sufficient funding.

  • China, Japan, Korea, India, and the European Union are eager to compete with the US and have trade surpluses with the US to fund their transitions, and are mandating IPv6.

  • If the US does not lead in IPv6, the US cannot lead in the Internet.

  • If the US does not lead in the Internet, it cannot lead in Information Technology.

  • If the US does not lead in Information Technology, it cannot lead in high technology.

  • If the US does not lead in high technology, it will be difficult to lead the world in anything except for deficits.

  • We will lose opportunities in satellites, automotive, energy, consumer electronics, apparel, food, 4G wireless, and a broadband-enabled service export boom

  • If the US does not lead in anything but deficits, its economy will shrink even as its population increases.

How can the US come from behind and regain leadership in IPv6?

  1. Recognize that funding the original IPv4-based Internet was a very, very good use of federal funds: $50 million in federal funds that turned into about $500 billion a year in extra federal tax revenues. If there was a policy to invest even 1% of “profits” from smart federal investments, then IPv6 would be receiving $5 billion a year.

  2. Admit that markets don’t automatically make leaders, and that federal mandates are usually necessary for changes that don’t give one company a private advantage. For instance, the US has failed to adopt the metric system, and failed to lead in any wireless advance for almost 20 years (including 2G, 2.5G, 3G and now 4G!), as well as in color television, and now plasma screens and other advances.

  3. Fully fund the Dept. of Defense IPv6 Transition Office as John Stenbit intended, with $250 million between now and 2008.

  4. Make requests for waivers very difficult and very costly, and don’t give new IT-related contracts to companies that are so incompetent that they can’t figure out how to use IPv6 and incorporate it in their offerings. Create a website to publicize all companies that request waivers, and state that waivers will only be given once for free, with penalty fees that rise exponentially being required for each year after the first one.

  5. Mandate IPv6 for the entire federal government by 2010, or 2011 at the latest. The Dept. of Defense can’t move the entire nation on its own, and shouldn’t have to, given all of its other life-or-death priorities. Why should only the DoD have to fund the transition to a New Internet, when every other branch of the US government and every agency will also benefit from it in the near, mid, and/or long term?

  6. Develop a mechanism for industry and government to meet, collaborate, and exchange ideas and best practices for standardizing, certifying, procuring, deploying, integrating and maintaining IPv6-capable networks.

  7. Organize joint procurement between all US federal agencies, showing favoritism to companies that are willing and able to collaborate in helping to get IPv6 deployed. For instance, companies that actually use and deploy IPv6 on their own campuses should be given more consideration than competitors that don’t bother to deploy IPv6.

  8. Organize joint procurements, including volume discounts, for coalition partners of the US, so that 50 countries can buy from similar discount schedules.

  9. Coordinate IPv6 mandates so that all nations that are allies of the US move to IPv6 in a synchronized fashion, and end-to-end interoperability is either created or maintained at the same time, around the world.

  10. Companies need to ADVERTISE IPv6! No one is going to ask for products or services or features that they don’t know are available. Over $180 billion is spent on advertising in the US each year, with zero billion going towards IPv6 advertising. What if even close to $1 billion were spent advertising IPv6 and its advantages each year? There would be huge public interest.

If you believe that you have better ideas about promoting IPv6, please send us your thoughts. We welcome your inspirations and insights, and hope you will register to join us at the Coalition Summit for IPv6 as we seek to actually create the buying and certification collectives to coordinate IPv6 deployments world-wide among and between Coalition Partner nations.