IPv6: Why Should I Care?

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Workshop 421

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[Read more session reports and updates from the 14th Internet Governance Forum]

The purpose of this workshop was to raise awareness of issues related to digital inclusion that Internet users and states and regions might face during the deployment of IPv6.

The workshop utilised a three-question quiz on the Slido platform that participants answered, after which each panellist offered reflections. The majority of the audience thought that Africa would be the most prone to digital inclusion issues in the IPv4 to IPv6 transition.

Mr Mukom Akong Tamon (Head of Capacity Development & Professional Services at the African Network Information Center (AFRINIC)) spoke about the main pillars of digital inclusion. Firstly, this includes the need for affordable and robust broadband infrastructure, while ensuring the economic viability of the broadband service and the quality of the infrastructure. Secondly, the availability and accessibility of Internet-enabled devices that meet the needs of the user is essential, as the rate at which devices become obsolete is very high.

In response to issues that may come up if an Internet service provider (ISP) does not migrate to IPv6, Mr Marco Hogewoning (Technical Advisor, RIPE NCC) returned to the fundamental issue that IPv4 only has 4 billion addresses and that there are many more than 4 billion people in this world, let alone all of their devices. Within that system, he spoke about the option of sharing addresses, and the possibility of exchanges, as some organisations have more addresses then they need. There is an active market in IPv4 addresses, with an approximate value of US$25 to US$30 per IP address. When people observe an IPv4-only world, everything looks fine. But once you go beyond to IPv6, there is suddenly a world of possibilities, as it is faster and cheaper. People are not aware of what they are missing as they do not know or see the possibilities of IPv6.

Mr Antonio Marcos Moreiras (Brazilian Network Information Center - NIC.br) spoke of their work over the years, including the provision of more than 200 IPv6 classes free of charge, and actively teaching and training the technical community in the deployment of IPv6.

In terms of future expectations, Hogewoning mentioned that sooner or later the price of IPv4 will outweigh the price of deploying IPv6 and that will eventually drive entities to make the transition. Moreiras emphasised that if the world wants one single worldwide network, it cannot rely only on IPv4 because its addresses have been depleted and it is insufficient in fully connecting people, organisations, communities, and devices around the world.

Ms Constanze Buerger (Ministry of the Interior, Germany) shared her thoughts that the question is not whether to transition to IPv6 but how. Better standardisation across countries and more communication between the public sector and ISPs are important steps towards the future infrastructure.

In conclusion, it is clear that IPv6 is the way of the future. How the world gets there is being worked on now, and needs more people involved in making it happen.

By Darija Medić

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