Conversations with Experts™A Metanoia, Inc. Signature Series!

The IPv6 Conundrum: The Interplay Between Carriage, Content, and Regulation, and 
the Impact on Economies:

With Geoff Huston, Chief Scientist, APNIC

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Among the many important Internet anniversaries and milestones we reached in 2011, a significant one was in February 2011, when IANA handed out its final blocks of IPv4 address to the RIRs (Regional Internet Registries). Plus, the IPv4 address stocks are rapidly running out in the Asia Pacific, and other regions will soon follow!

Thus, it was timely that on World IPv6 Day, June 8, 2011, Google, Yahoo, Bing and Facebook, converted their main web pages to be reachable over both IPv4 and IPv6 (for a 24-hour test period). This acted to draw the attention of the industry towards preparing their service offerings for IPv6, and was also intended to encourage them to accelerate their deployment plans for IPv6 in the Internet.

The imminent exhaustion of IPv4 addresses and the profusion of mobile devices, and more importantly, of M2M (machine-to-machine communication) over wired and wireless media (creating potential demand for hundreds of millions of IP addresses each year), has brought to the fore very interesting issues relating to the transition to IPv6 – E.g. When will it finally occur? How will that process play out? What are the positions of the various players – service providers, content providers, end-users, regulators, and governments -- involved? What are the pushes and pulls, and even the economic implications of this transition?

Indeed, given that IPv6 development was started as a successor to IPv4, during the original discussions of IPv4 address exhaustion back in 1990, and its specification more or less complete by 1998, even we wondered why is it that IPv6 is not already in deployments, and why the brouhaha about the transition to IPv6?

To delve into these issues, we invited Geoff Huston, the pre-eminent world authority on IPv4 exhaustion (and Internet pioneer and visionary, and “Father of the Internet” in Australia, to those of us who have been around a bit in the industry) to share his perspective on this fascinating and, as will be seen, fairly complex issue. Geoff interacted with us during an episode of our signature series “Conversations with Experts,” to share the essence of his key insights into migration issues, having been quoted in the OECD’s publication “The Internet Technical Community Issues Memorandum on Future of the Internet in a Global Economy,” 2008..

The IPv6 Conundrum: The Interplay Between Carriage, Content, 
and Regulation, and the Impact on Economies
Geoff Huston, Chief Scientist, APNIC in Conversation with
Vishal Sharma, Principal Technologist, Metanoia-Inc


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In this Conversations with Experts episode, we focus on five key aspects of IPv6 deployment and the issues it raises.

Geoff first provides, in his own words, a brief run down of his work in the Internet, going back to the early 80’s, culminating with his seminal role in bringing the Internet to Australia in 1989.

We then discuss address exhaustion in the Internet, it’s history, and why it’s a problem. From there we segue into IPv6, and what the implications are for the various players – service providers/carriage providers, content providers, and end-users, of such a transition. We focus on the investments needed do so, the cost-benefit argument for doing so (who benefits and who should invest in the infrastructure), and finally, who should pay for this transition and why? All complex and interesting issues!

Geoff then explains the carriage providers' problems, with a beautiful analogy going back to the barge operators of old in England! This explains the perpetual tension between the carriage providers (the barge operator or the service provider) and the content provider (the shipper or merchant of old, and the content providers (Google, Netflix, et al) of today).

Geoff draws upon his extensive work with numerous world bodies such as OCED, ITU-T, APEC, and ICANN, to explain why simple market forces many not, in this case, be sufficient to propel the transition to IPv6. It turns out that the Internet is too economically core an infrastructure (worldwide) for it to be controlled solely by the vagaries of “market forces.” Indeed, we then focus on the impact of such a transition (or not) for the economic well-being of many nations, and it is fascinating to hear Geoff articulating the case for some regulator intervention to nudge activity towards the overall economic good of nations.

Geoff’s insights into IPv6 transition issues can also be found in the March 2011 issue of the Internet Protocol Journal.


Geoff Huston is currently Chief Scientist at the Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), where he focuses on Internet infrastructure, IP technologies, address distribution, and Internet operation. Geoff is an internationally recognized and sought after expert, and widely regarded as the pre-eminent researcher on IPv4 exhaustion and IPv6 transition issues.

Prior to APNIC, Geoff spent 10 years (1995-2005) at Telstra as Chief Internet Scientist, and earlier as Technical Manager of the pre-eminent Australian Academic and Research Network (AARNET). At Telstra, he took a leading role in the construction and development of Telstra’s Internet service offerings in Australia and internationally, and was instrumental in introducing the Internet in Australia, back in 1989.

Geoff is an internationally recognized authority, active in numerous Internet organizations, such as the IETF, NANOG, RIPE. He has been on the Internet Architecture Board, and the Board of Trustees of the Internet Society. He is an invited speaker, representative, and advisor to numerous international forums and government bodies, advising them on the economic impacts of IP technologies. He is currently Co-Chair of IETF Working Groups on BGP Security and IPv6 Multi-homing.

Geoff is the author/co-author of some fundamental books on IP technology including: The Internet Performance Survival Guide, John Wiley, February 2000; An ISP Survival Guide, John Wiley and Sons, November 1998; Quality of Service: Delivering QoS on the Internet and in Corporate Networks, John Wiley and Sons, February 1998.

Geoff received the BSc (Hons) and MSc (Computer Science) degrees from the Australian National University. His personal website and blog (with insightful observations on all things Internet!) can be found here , and a very interesting bio can be found here.


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