This is one of a series of
columns from the Society of Broadcast Engineers, published regularly in Radio
In early 2011, the shortage of commonly
used IPv4 Internet protocol addresses reached the public media when the Internet
Assigned Numbers Authority, the international body that allocates IP address
space, depleted its pool of available addresses assigned to the five Regional
Internet Registries, or RIRs.
The Asian-Pacific RIR subsequently depleted
its pool of available IPv4 address space. In the United States, observers say
the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) may exhaust its available
IPv4 address pool as early as January 2013, though more optimistic projections
IPv6 was brought forward in the public
eye as the solution for the dwindling availability of Internet address space.
At times, the address space shortage
was considered an approaching Internet technology crisis. This may be true in
some cases; but to many the “crisis” was nonexistent. In reality, the majority
of North American network infrastructures are not ready for a “hot” cut to an
IPv6-only mode of operation.
Many organizations have enough public
IP address space or have met needs via dynamically assigning address space
within their organizations. This resolution creates an attitude that “IPv6 is a
possible future issue; however, it is not an issue today.” ARIN has IPv4
address space available and allocations are made based upon meeting the
allocation and utilization rules of established ARIN policy.
However, this attitude can result in a certain
sense of false security. The industry focus centers upon address space within an
organization’s network; but shouldn’t the focus also be directed toward the broadcaster
as a content provider and how the broadcaster is viewed by the Internet
From an international standpoint, the
growth areas in terms of content consumers — “eyeballs and ears” — will be in
an IPv6-only environment. This is especially true in the Asia-Pacific area,
which is experiencing massive growth in Internet service demand. Growth is
occurring in an IPv6-only environment simply due to lack of IPv4 address
In the United States, because large
blocks of IPv4 address space are not available, broadband cable and mobile data
networks rapidly are moving to IPv6-only context to accommodate projected
growth. ARIN has IPv4 address space to allocate, but not in the large block
space desired by these providers. In addition, they are getting a jump on the future
by implementing IPv6 now rather than later.
In either case, available IPv4 address
space is decreasing as demand for Internet address space increases rapidly.
So what about this false sense of security
for the broadcaster?
Instead of looking at your network from
the inside and focusing solely on adequate IPv4 address space, look at your
network from the outside. Who are the “eyeballs and ears” that desire your
content? You will find the majority are IPv4-based content consumers; but at
the same time, you may find a growing number of IPv6-only content consumers.
Evaluate when IPv6 implementation is
needed by determining how the consumer has access to the content. Implement the
network infrastructure that allows access in a native IPv6 format for the IPv6-only
viewer and/or listener.
exist to accommodate the mixed world of IPv6-only consumers and IPv4-only
content. Industry solutions include IPv6-IPv4 Network Address Translation (NAT)
and, in many practical implementations, double NAT processes occur through
solutions such as Carrier-Grade Nat (CGN).
IPv6 Quick Facts
IPv4 Address Space:
Slightly over 4,000,000
IP Addresses Available
IPv6 Address Space:
is more than just larger address space:
IP addresses available
undecillion or 3.4×1038)
with QoS in mind
awareness of mobility
the end-end Internet communications
some types of Internet content, such as basic Web page content, these solutions
are viable. However, a major drawback of any solution is the detriment to
Quality of Service (QoS) factors that affect real-time media content, such as
streaming audio and video content provided by the broadcaster or similar audio
and/or video content providers.
What is the solution for the
If you are a provider of content to the
Internet audience, IPv6-enable your network to the outside world. In practical
terms, enable your content servers, Web servers and external email so that your
content or service is provided in native form to both IPv6 and IPv4-only
This approach eliminates the need for
any translation or conversion schemes, thus eliminating the potential for
performance degradation. A proactive approach also prepares you for the future
sooner than later.
Enable your “outward-facing” network
services in an IPv4-IPv6 “dual-stack” mode, which allows your content to be
delivered in a native format to both IPv4 and IPv6 “eyeballs and ears,” and
lets you provide the best possible listening or viewing experience for your
IPv6 may not be on
your technology roadmap today, but as you look to the future, be sure to survey
the Internet content consumer world from the proper viewpoint so that your “roadmap”
is reflective of the changing technology and consumer. Take the implementation
road that provides the best possible experience for your content consumer. This
just might be your competitive advantage.
more information regarding IPv6 implementation, consider attending the SBE
webinar to be offered this spring. It will focus upon implementing IPv6 as
suggested. Visit the Education page on sbe.org
for more details about the webinar.
Wayne M. Pecena, CPBE, is a member of the
SBE Education Committee and a speaker for the SBE on networking technology at
Ennes Workshop events and the SBE sponsored webinars. He is director of
engineering at Educational Broadcast Services in the Office of Information
Technology at Texas A&M University. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.