Comcast, Time Warner Cable and AT&T are among the Internet service providers that have committed to participate in the "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 event, organized by the not-for-profit Internet Society, comes after the 24-hour World IPv6 Day test event on June 6, 2011. The move to IPv6 is becoming urgent as the pool of 4.3 billion available addresses in the current IPv4 nears exhaustion.
The ISPs participating in World IPv6 Launch will enable IPv6 for enough users so that at least 1% of their wireline residential subscribers who visit participating websites will do so using IPv6 by June 6. Other service providers participating in the event include Free Telecom, Internode, KDDI and XS4ALL.
"IPv6 deployment is a key priority for Comcast in 2012, and we're excited to participate in this Internet Society event that will help catalyze action around the world on this important transition," John Schanz, Comcast's executive vice president and chief network officer, said in a statement.
Added Time Warner Cable CTO Mike LaJoie, "The time to permanently enable IPv6 has arrived. Time Warner Cable is committed to the World IPv6 Launch in June, our customers should be reassured that the platform is ready and our partners should be including IPv6 in all their products and services."
U.S. Internet service providers probably have about one year's supply of IPv4 addresses left, but Asian and European ISPs are already being forced to activate users with IPv6 connections, according to John Curran, president and CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers, which allocates IP address space to ISPs and other organizations in North America and parts of the Caribbean.
IPv4 and IPv6 are not compatible, so without some kind of translation layer, websites and other Internet servers hosted on IPv4 are invisible to users with IPv6-only end devices (and vice versa). ISPs are expected to provide large-scale translation for IPv6-only customers to reach existing Internet sites, but "we don't really know how well that will work," Curran said.
Comcast, for one, has said it will initially deploy IPv6 in a "dual-stack" implementation, providing customers native access to both IPv4 and IPv6 sources. The MSO began activating IPv6-connected customers on its live commercial networks last fall.
The first group of Web content companies that are participating in World IPv6 Launch includes Facebook, Google, Microsoft Bing and Yahoo, which will enable IPv6 on their main websites permanently beginning June 6.
In addition, two home networking equipment manufacturers -- Cisco Systems and D-Link -- have said they will enable IPv6 by default across their home router products by June 6.
"World IPv6 Launch marks a watershed moment in Internet history. It breaks the limits of the original address space to open a vast new territory, trillions upon trillions of times larger, and reinforces the end-to-end architecture that made the Internet so powerful at the beginning," Google chief Internet evangelist Vint Cerf commented.
Content delivery network providers Akamai Technologies and Limelight Networks will be enabling their CDN customers to join the list of participating websites by enabling IPv6 throughout their infrastructure.
"The fact that leading companies across several industries are making significant commitments to participate in World IPv6 Launch is yet another indication that IPv6 is no longer a lab experiment; it's here and is an important next step in the Internet's evolution," Leslie Daigle, the Internet Society's chief Internet technology officer, said in a statement. "And, as there are more IPv6 services, it becomes increasingly important for companies to accelerate their own deployment plans."
More information about World IPv6 Launch is available at worldipv6launch.org.