Verizon may have already been working to meet IPv6 address compliance mandates for its large business and government customers, but with the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) predicting that in 2011 the U.S. may be out of IPv4 addresses the service provider is turning its attention to its residential FiOS broadband customer base.
To gain a better sense of how it could transition its FiOS customer base from IPv4 to IPv6 addressing, Verizon is conducting a month-long trial with many of its employee subscribers in its Reston, Virginia market. For the trial, Verizon has equipped each home with custom CPE that simultaneously supports both IPv6 and IPv4.
On the network side, Verizon will also incorporate dual support for the two protocols on its edge network routers. By leveraging 6PE technology, the edge routers will be connected over the service provider's IPv4 MPLS core network, while the IPv6 traffic is sent over IPv6-capable peering connections.
Jean McManus, executive director, packet network technology for Verizon, said the initial goal of the current trial is to help Verizon "get a better understanding of dual stack, how it performs based on our embedded supplier and also have the opportunity to work with dual stack CPE."
While the trial will allow the user to send IP packets through the dual stack CPE up to the dual stack edge router and into Verizon's core network sounds interesting, one can't forget that the trial is focused on consumers, many of which aren't typically technically savvy. That then begs the obvious question is what benefit will the transition to IPv6 bring to the everyday FiOS consumer?
For one, having IPv6 capabilities in place means that the router would no longer require network address translation (NAT), meaning that one public Internet address could be translated into multiple private addresses to serve a host of IP-enabled home devices (PCs, game consoles, etc).
"We're looking at it right now as a network address exhaust problem, but it's also an opportunity," McManus said. "There are service opportunities when you go to v6. Because you get rid of NAT in the CPE all of a sudden there are a number of different services that are feasible with v6 that with v4 you may have had issues with."
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