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IETF Examines Future of the Internet by Going IPv6 Native

IETF Examines Future of the Internet by Going IPv6 Native

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) put a spotlight on the next generation of Internet addressing when it switched off attendees’ access to IPv4 during its meeting this week. For an hour, Internet engineers at the meeting could only access the Internet using an IPv6 network.

IPv6 is the next generation of the Internet Protocol (IP) that provides the underlying numbering system for the Internet. The current Internet addressing system, IPv4, has been operational for two decades.

During this event, IETF participants were encouraged to explore the Internet as it appears today in the IPv6 environment. The purpose of this exploration was to determine the next steps necessary toward deployment of IPv6 as the next generation of Internet addressing.

As the Internet grows, the larger address space of IPv6 is needed in order to ensure continued global addressability of the entire network. The IETF undertook this activity at a time when IPv6-implementation is becoming a matter of global importance for the Internet.

The event provided all IETF meeting attendees a first-hand opportunity to work with the Internet over an exclusive IPv6 network. “We get a lot of reports from members of our community who use IPv6, but this was an opportunity for everyone to observe and discuss the technical issues as a group,” said Russ Housley, Chair of the IETF. “This first-hand data helps to inform our engineering decisions.”

Some members of the Internet technical community assert that the ongoing deployment of IPv6 has been held back by a lack of IPv6-accessible websites, creating the classic first-step dilemma for network operators. “It has been incredible to observe as members of the community organized themselves and updated their home networks to be ready for this event,” said Leslie Daigle, Chief Internet Technology Officer at the Internet Society. “As we continue to solve the engineering and implementation obstacles to IPv6 deployment, creative engineers around the world will develop new uses for the Internet, through IPv6, in ways we can’t yet imagine.”

The IETF has provided dual stack IPv4/IPv6 network connectivity at its meetings for years, which has been useful for its regular IPv6-using attendees. The difference this week was that a strictly IPv6 network was made available as well, and all attendees were encouraged to explore and experiment with the Internet as seen from IPv6. This focus was heightened when IPv4 access was deliberately shut off for an hour, leaving only IPv6 for connectivity. By the end of this week, the engineering community expects to have a better understanding of the next steps necessary in the development of Internet protocols and standards to support the continued deployment of IPv6 in support of the global Internet.

The Comcast Corporation provided the facilities to conduct the live test of IPv6 and was the host sponsor of IETF-71 in Philadelphia.

For more information about IPv6, please see:

About the IETF

The IETF ( is a large open international community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers concerned with the evolution of the Internet architecture and the smooth operation of the Internet.

About ISOC

The Internet Society ( is a nonprofit organization founded in 1992 to provide leadership in Internet related standards, education, and policy. With offices in Washington, DC, and Geneva, Switzerland, it is dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of people throughout the world.

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