OECD: Internet Addressing – Measuring Deployment of IPv6

IPv4 addresses are nearing full allocation, with over 92% of all available addresses already in use in March 2010. Global adoption of IPv6 – the long-term solution to the address space problem – would require a major increase in its use, in little time, and significant mobilization across all parts of the Internet. This report shows that while IPv6 use seems to be growing slightly faster than IPv4, IPv6 is not being deployed sufficiently quickly to intercept the estimated IPv4 exhaustion date, which could stifle creativity and the deployment of new services.

One of the major challenges for all stakeholders in thinking about the future of the Internet is its ability to scale to connect billions of people and devices. The Internet Protocol (IP) specifies how communications take place between one device and another through an addressing system. Each device must have an IP address in order to communicate. However, existing best projections are that the currently used version of the Internet Protocol, IPv4, will run out of previously unallocated addresses in 2012.1 IPv4 addresses are nearing full allocation, with just 8% of addresses remaining in March 2010.When IPv4 addresses run out, operators and companies must support IPv6 in order to add new customers or devices to their networks. Otherwise, they will need complex and expensive layers of network address translation (NAT) to share scarce IPv4 addresses among multiple users and devices. For this reason, the timely deployment of the newer version of the Internet Protocol (IPv6) by network operators and content/application providers is an increasing priority for all Internet stakeholders. In terms of public policy, IPv6 plays an important role in enabling innovation and scalability of the Internet. In addition, security, interoperability and competition issues are involved with the depletion of IPv4.The objective of this report is to investigate indicators of IPv6 deployment, to help raise awareness among policy makers of the level of IPv6 deployment on the Internet. Various indicators are presented in this report, each of which offers information on a specific aspect of IPv6 deployment and from a particular vantage point. The difficulty of such a measurement exercise and the many caveats associated with each indicator are underscored.Today, IPv6 is still a small proportion of the Internet. However, IPv6 use is growing faster than continuing IPv4 use, albeit from a low base. And several large-scale deployments are taking place or planned. Overall, the Internet is still in the early stages of a transition whereby end hosts, networks, services, and middleware are shifting from IPv4-only to support both IPv4 and IPv6. During a potentially long transition, both IPv4 and IPv6 will co-exist in “dual-stack” operation on most of the Internet, although some green-field IPv6-only deployments will also take place for new usage models such as mobile Internet or sensor networks deployments.To download this report in full, see: