Upwardly Mobile: IPv6 For Mobile?

Brace yourself: Address exhaustion is coming

IPv6 is the global warming of the computer industry, an impending disaster that most folks don’t seem to be taking as seriously as they should be. We’re well into the exhaustion phase of the IPv4 address space, but most ISPs are still dragging their heels on supplying the wider protocol to the end user.

Thanks to a router firmware upgrade, I have been able to reestablish my 6in4 tunnel to Electric Hurricane’s Tunnel Broker, and my home is now nicely IPv6 compliant again, even though my ISP (Fairpoint) is as lax as the rest of the industry in providing real IPv6 to my doorstep. And when I threw my iPhone onto my home Wifi, it happily gobbles up an IPv6 address from the router and passes tests with flying colors. But if I drop back onto AT&T LTE, it’s a very different story.

Mobile devices have quickly become a major consumer of network bandwidth, and implementing IPv6 to the device would drastically increase the number of IPv6 connected devices on the Internet. Historically, IPv6 has suffered from a chicken and egg problem. No one wants to implement services for it until there’s network demand for it, and no one wants to offer IPv6 connectivity until there are resources to access. If mobile carriers started providing native IPv6 to smartphones, the number of endpoints that could use IPv6 network resources would skyrocket. And given that IPv6 offers enhanced QoS support, and other benefits that mobile could leverage, it seems like a natural fit.

Let’s hope that the mobile carriers (and all ISPs, frankly) get their act together in the next year. And remember, there’s no place like ::1

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