This is one area where government is leading the industry. And both sides agree the internet has to move on to its new level – seamlessly
Imagine a family staying together, multiplying through generations but keeping the same address. What do you expect in such a house – cacophony, lack of mobility, space, poor quality of life et cetera? That is the state of our internet protocol today. Version 4 we use now is a quarter century old and has outlived its utility. It uses 32 bit addressing space (and has a capacity to offer about 4.3 billion IP addresses) – 90 percent of which, according to the 2010 statistics, is full. Today internet fraternity is growing much faster than the world’s population. Going by this rate, IT expert Simson Garfinkel wrote in Technology Review in 2004, there will exist “roughly 5,000 addresses for every square micrometre of the earth’s surface”.
With this background, Governance Now organised its sixth technology RoundTable on the topic ‘Ipv6: The next protocol for internet’ last fortnight. Experts from government, industry and industry associations as well as internet service providers agreed in the same breath that switching over to a new protocol is not an option anymore – it is the need.
Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) uses 128 bits addressing space, and to maximise this, uses hex characters for each octet as opposed to numerical. It can make available an infinite pool of IP addresses. It also enhances security, mobility and quality of service. However, switching to a new protocol brings along the challenges of migration which need to be addressed at the national level.
During the discussions, RM Agarwal, deputy director general, department of telecom, emphasised that the questions about why and how IPv6 were over. “The question is how fast we can achieve it.” Dr Govind, senior director, department of electronics and information technology (DeitY), agreed with Agarwal and said, “Although transition to IPv6 is slow, but it is imminent.” While G Srinivas, chief technology officer, Neosixth Technologies, said that IPv6 should be looked as an opportunity to transform, consolidate and build up a new architecture, Rajesh Chharia, president, internet service providers association of India (ISPAI), advocated that the government should mandate that any hardware/software product coming to India should be compatible with IPv6. In essence, there was uniformity among the experts that adaption to IPv6 is the way ahead.