Comcast has initiated the production rollout of support for IPv6 in wireless gateways and other home-networking equipment, which will let customers start using the next-generation Internet protocol with more IPv6-compatible devices.
The MSO is the first North American Internet service provider to support native IPv6 for both standalone computers and home networking gear, Jason Livingood, vice president of Internet systems in Comcast's Network and Operations group, wrote in a blog post Wednesday.
In November 2011, Comcast began to activate IPv6 for standalone computers in select markets. The IPv6 home networking deployment will occur first in Comcast's existing IPv6 pilot market areas, which initially includes parts of Illinois, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, according to Livingood.
"In the coming months one of our biggest objectives is continuing to expand this deployment to more and more of our network around the U.S.," he said.
Comcast is in the process deploying IPv6 nationwide in a "dual-stack" implementation in which both IPv6 and IPv4 are supported on the client, rather than using a network-address translation approach.
"We maintain our commitment to the goal of a seamless transition to IPv6 and strongly believe that native dual stack is the best approach for our customers," Livingood wrote. "We also believe that this strategy will over time will meaningfully differentiate our service from our competitors in a way that customers will greatly appreciate."
The migration to IPv6 is becoming urgent for ISPs worldwide, as the pool of 4.3 billion available addresses in the current IPv4 address scheme is nearly depleted.
Comcast is among the Internet service providers that have committed to participate in World IPv6 Launch on June 6, 2012, an event that will also encompass website operators and home-networking equipment vendors aimed at catalyzing the transition to the next-generation Internet Protocol. The launch of IPv6-enabled customer home networking is "critical to our participation in World IPv6 Launch," John Brzozowski, Comcast distinguished engineer and chief architect for IPv6, wrote in a separate blog post.
To date, Comcast's IPv6 launches have used cable-modem termination systems from Arris Group. The operator also is working closely with Cisco Systems and expects that its CMTS platform will soon be ready to support IPv6 "reliably and at scale in production, so that our deployment can expand beyond our Arris CMTS footprint," Brzozowski wrote.
As part of the initial IPv6 home networking launch, Comcast has tested a subset of equipment to ensure compatibility. Brzozowski noted that D-Link products have been widely used as part of the trials and initial production deployment, and provides a complete list of IPv6-tested home networking devices and cable modems at http://mydeviceinfo.comcast.net.
In March, Comcast temporarily suspended its IPv6 network rollout in some markets because of an IPv6-compatibilty glitch in a Netgear cable modem that prevented the device from being provisioned. Netgear said it would deliver a firmware update to Comcast for the affected DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem to make the devices compatible with IPv6. The issue affected fewer than 1,000 subscribers, according to a source close to Comcast.