UNH-IOL IPv6 consortium grows 142% as providers look to test transition solutions

With the Number Resource Organization's (NRO) central IPv4 address pool now finally depleted, service providers and businesses are increasingly turning to independent testing organizations like the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) to test products and solutions key to transitioning to IPv6.

Having been a test bed for IPv6 since 1996, the UNH-IOL reported that its IPv6 Consortium has grown 142 percent in just the last 12 months.

"I have seen a lot more IPv6 products than I ever have seen," said Timothy Winters, senior manager for the UNH-IOL, adding that the growth is "directly related to USG request and the depletion of V4 addresses."

UNH Interoperability LabUNH-IOL drives IPv6 testing from two fronts: IPv6-ready testing program for vendors and their enterprise and service providers and then the USG (US Government) testing program.  

Some of UNH-IOL's recent activities include an IPv6 Interoperability Test event focused on CPE vendors focused on the cable industry to deliver Internet services to new and existing customers using IPv6, and enabling end-user connectivity by ensuring IPv6 readiness in home networking equipment.

One concern is the upcoming World IPv6 Day on June 8. Service providers worry that their consumers' gateway devices won't be able to access certain websites like Google because the devices are not IPv6-capable. Winters describes this as being "broken V6," which means that the device (PC, laptop or gateway) at the home thinks it has V6 connectivity and the consumer won't be able to connect to particular sites.

"What we're working toward on this program is that we're trying to help these box devices get a certified IPv6 logo for their products, meaning that if a consumer goes to Best Buy and buys a device it will work and it won't blow up on them," Winters said. "We're just talking about IPv6 connectivity and we're not getting into security and all the other things yet."

Although IPv6 is accepted as a way to keep both current and new customers connected to respective cable broadband networks, IPv6 isn't widely deployed in the broadband networks outside of some pilot trials taken by cable MSOs such as Comcast and by RBOCs Verizon. Cable gateway vendors were able to find ways to overcome interoperability challenges that their customers could fact in making the transition from IPv4 to IPv6.  

On the federal government side, the UNH-IOL's IPv6 Consortium became an accredited testing lab for the USGv6 Test Program in January 2010. What this means is that hardware and software vendors that want to sell IPv6 products to the federal government and seeking compliance with the USGv6 Profile will be able to ensure the capabilities of their products match federal acquisition requirements.

"The USG program creates a good profile for declaring what an agency or buyer might want," Winters said. "I wouldn't be surprised to see large telecom operators glean large parts of that because it's straightforward in that when you buy products make sure they have V6 in them."

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