Geir Egeland has known since the 1990s that the Internet couldn’t last forever. One day we would need to upgrade to a version called IPv6, and according to Geir, that time is now.
Back in the mid-1990s, Geir Egeland and fellow engineers in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) realized that the growth of the Internet would, in the not-so-distant future, create a situation where there wouldn’t be enough IP addresses to go around. This was at a time when most people were getting their very first home Internet connections; nobody was even thinking about the next Internet…everyone except Geir.
A 14–year-old technology
IPv6 is a network protocol that will replace the current Internet (called IPv4). IPv6 is not new by any means. According to Geir, the standardization work was more or less completed back in 1998. But until recently there has been no urgency to make the change. If anything it hasn’t been considered worth the bother.
“The problem with trying to push IPv6 in the late 1990s/early 2000s was that there was no direct tie to greater revenues or improved customer experience. Then the dot com bubble burst and no one was really interested in spending any money on IPv6,” explains Geir. “Everyone was waiting for the IPv6 “killer application” to be discovered to make the business case.”
So far, nobody has discovered a killer app in order to usher in IPv6 with a bit more fanfare. In fact, most people won’t notice any difference at all once the switch is finally made.
IPv6 is crucial to business continuity
“The reason that IPv6 has crept up on us this time is simply due to business continuity. We will run out of IP addresses to give our customers,” says Geir. “So really the killer application is the connectivity; the Internet itself. And if we want to continue growing we need to upgrade.”
“The problem for most people when it comes to understanding the switch to a new Internet is that IPv6 isn’t something that you can see or buy in a store. IPv6 is just a piece of your computer’s operating system that’s going to pack all your bits and bytes in a different format and ship it on the same wires that you use every day,” says Geir.
Telenor is in line with other telecoms
Last year, Telenor Norway issued a statement that by 2013, any customer requiring IPv6 will receive an offer for supporting products. According to Geir, this statement is pretty much in line with what the other telecoms are doing; we are neither in the lead nor lagging behind. Telenor is doing the upgrade in a sensible way, in time with market demand and the modernization of the networks.
The boy who cried wolf is finally right
IPv6 is something that Geir has been thinking about for more than a decade. He says that he sort of feels like “the boy who cried wolf”, only this time the people are listening because IPv6 is the only way the Interne will grow. But what will Geir do once we are living in a fully IPv6 connected world?
“I guess it’s sort of been my baby…but it’s something that’s never really finished. There’s always new stuff, new technology, new ways to communicate. The good thing about IPv6 is that it is flexible technology. It will allow for new services that you can’t even imagine…believe me, if I could I would have my own start-up,” jokes Geir.
One day in the near future, we’ll all be on IPv6 and shared IP addresses will be a thing of the past. It may not be a transition with the same degree of excitement as, say, the switch to digital TV, but it is an essential switch that will enable the inevitable growth of the Internet and allow for more of the world to get connected.
June 6 is World IPv6 Launch Day
“It’s been a long wait, but after June 6 many of the Internet’s major content providers will be permanently available on IPv6,” says Geir. “The next step is about the network access, and Telenor will be there soon.”