[ppml] Proposed Policy: IPv4 Countdown

Stephen Sprunk stephen at sprunk.org
Thu Mar 15 17:42:35 EDT 2007

Thus spake <michael.dillon at bt.com>
>> Nice thought experiment, but 99.9999% of the routers in the
>> ARIN region (you know, all those boxes consumers and
>> SoHos are sitting behind) don't support IPv6 and the vendors
>> have shown absolutely no interest in adding it.
> If the boxes are based on a CPU or SOC such as ARM, MIPS,
> PowerPC, then the software can usually be upgraded by flashing
> the box. It may be a bit tricky for consumers to do, but it is NOT
> a forklift upgrade. These days most such boxes are based on
> programmable hardware, and sometimes even FPGAs.

It usually _possible_, yes, but first of all the vendors would have to 
actually release firmware updates (for all products, not just the current 
ones) that include IPv6.  No dice so far.

Enthusiasts might download replacement firmware, e.g. OpenWRT or DD-WRT, 
with IPv6 support but (a) that's not acceptable for the general population, 
and (b) even that may not be good enough -- none I've found can fit IPv6 
into my 54Gv5.  Heck, I can't even pass IPinIP through the box to a nearby 
6to4 relay...

>> And, even if it were available, how do you plan on reaching out
>> to millions of Joe Sixpacks and Grandmas and convince them
>> to upgrade?
> Cost/benefit comes into play here. How many of these have a
> significant capital investment in their boxes? Very few. Most of
> the capital investment was hidden in monthly rates that lose
> money for the first 12 months with an 18 month lock-in, or they
> are called a "setup fee".

Or they dropped $99 at Best Buy.  If it's a matter of hiding the capex in 
monthly rates, what motivation do the telcos/MSOs have to hide a replacement 
box's cost and take a hit on their very narrow profits for _another_ year? 
If it's a setup fee or customer-purchased item, why would a consumer want to 
pay another $99 to replace the box they have that's working just fine?

> A lot of these people will simply switch to the new IPv6 service
> with bundled IPv6 gateway when there is something they want
> on the IPv6 network.

There is little to nothing people care about on the "IPv6 network" that 
isn't also accessible via IPv4, so who's going to pay extra for a "new IPv6 
service" when it gets them nothing?  You might get most people upgraded to 
v6-capable equipment simply through customer churn, but that still requires 
vendors to make v6 products, which will only happen if ISPs (and retailers) 
actually demand it.  Why add a feature nobody is asking for?

I've seen lots and lots of presentations, press releases, vendor spin, etc. 
on why IPv6 is great for network operators, but I have yet to see anything 
compelling why _end users_ should care even the tiniest bit.  Unless that's 
going to magically change, ISPs need to figure out how to upgrade users 
without their knowledge.

> ... both IP and the Internet evolved, slowly and inexorable gathering
> mass and momentum. IPv6 has been doing this for years now. It's
> not just a quaint idea on the shelf.

Nope.  It's not even on the shelf yet; it hasn't reached the "quaint" stage 
after more than a decade of advocacy and development.


Stephen Sprunk      "Those people who think they know everything
CCIE #3723         are a great annoyance to those of us who do."
K5SSS                                             --Isaac Asimov 

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