I sometimes find it annoying that IPv6 still isn’t readily available. This raises the following question in my head: what can we, as tech-savvy individuals, do about it, now? I think the main thing we can do is ask for it, and use IPv6. The aim of this blogpost is to give you ideas where and when you can ask for it, how you can use it in the mean time even if you don’t get what you ask for, and tell you about my personal experience in practising this.
There probably won’t be anything revolutionary in this blog post for people who have been following the IPv6 deployment and who have IPv6 addresses assigned to their computer and any servers they may use… But I think that if we don’t ask for it, we won’t get it any quicker, so I’m writing this ask anyway 🙂
1. Get your home connected to the IPv6 internet
- Do some research: see if your Internet Service Provider (ISP) offers IPv6, or even an IPv6 trial. If not, see which other ISPs (if any) in your area support IPv6.
- Prepare yourself for a conversation about IPv6. Make sure you know what IPv6 is (in simple terms) and have some reason for wanting it, at least superficially (maybe you prefer using IPv6 addresses over NAT + port forwarding to talk to your devices at home, for example).
- Ask your ISP for IPv6 connectivity, and if they don’t currently offer it, ask them about their plans. If they have a trial, sign up for it. I suggest contacting their support about this, either by Phone or E-Mail.
- Ask other ISPs in your area about IPv6, especially if your contract is up for renewal or you’re considering switching anyway. Walk into shops and ask people. When you call the sales hotline, ask whether they offer it. If they’ve never heard about IPv6, I suggest you educate them. With a bit of luck they’ll write down that somebody asked for it. If many of the sales people bring this point up in some meeting further down the line, well, that should increase our chances 🙂
- If all else fails, setup a tunnel. There exist various options, e.g.:
- Hurricane Electric’s IPv6 tunnelbroker
- SixXS IPv6 tunnelbroker
- You can of course build your own tunnel system as well, if you have a server or VM in an IPv6-enabled datacentre or access to VPN provider. (Thank you Dragon2611 for the idea)
- If you have a Locator/Identifier Separation Protocol (LISP) capable router (Cisco, OpenWRT, AVM FRIZ!Box), you can sign up to the beta network
2. Get IPv6 at work
- Get the ball rolling: start talking to your IT department, e.g. with the networking people. Find out what the plan is. If there is none, see if you can get some sort of IPv6 connectivity (see above, and/or check commercial offerings), and try to get a trial running. Your ISP probably cares more about you at work than at home.
- If you are in the IT department, you know what to do, right?
- You might not want to setup an IPv6 tunnel from your laptop to a public tunnelbroker, depending on how strict your IT policies are.
3. Get your internet presence IPv6-ified (if you have one)
- Ask your current hosting provider if they support IPv6. If they don’t, find one that does, and move there. A little research should yield enough competitive options.
- If you’re in control of your own DNS settings, make sure that you can setup AAAA records for your domains. This basically contains the IPv6 address that your domain should resolve to.
- Make sure your VPS/dedicated server/VM provider supports IPv6. If not, switch to one that does.
Pricing in the web/vm/server hosting area is quite competitive, and I haven’t seen companies charging extra for IPv6 connectivity, even though sometimes you may need to explicitly ask for it. Having said that, since not every provider supports IPv6, you may find that the ones that do may charge slightly higher prices than the absolute minimum you could otherwise get, but if you hunt around you should be able to find a competitive provider, especially if you’re willing to get the service from abroad.
Home broadband: After some research (see below), I settled for Be, even though they didn’t offer IPv6. I did ask their sales hotline for it though, and they at least seemed to have heard of it. They briefly talked about the new network upgrades, so I asked when my area would be upgraded, and even got an answer.
I’ve successfully used LISP at home to get IPv6 connectivity, and published this blog post over an IPv6 connection. This does require me to run an additional router, which I must admit I don’t always have turned on (it’s got an annoying fan and needs some DIY 😉 ).
Work: We’ve got IPv6 connectivity in the office and our main website is reachable over IPv6.
My internet presence: I started hosting this website on Amazon EC2, but after my free trial expired, I decided to switch to a VPS provider. After some searching I eventually found one that did IPv6, charged in GBP (to avoid currency conversion fees) and offered reasonable prices (if you use the coupon codes displayed at the top of their price list).
I recently contemplated with moving to Rackspace, and asked on their sales chat whether they offered IPv6. After the sales rep spent some time looking into it, he/she came to the conclusion that they indeed offered IPv6 for their “next-gen” cloud products. I had not managed to get that information previously by searching for it, but retrospectively I found, that IPv6 was mentioned on their website, though deeply hidden in their “Open Cloud Migration Considerations and Options” knowledge base article. To me, this was an example of getting it after asking for it, even though I guess technically it was available already. 🙂
I think the summary is, if you don’t ask, it will probably take a while for you to get IPv6 connectivity by default. Even if you ask, you might not get it, but at least you’ll show demand, make people look into it, and perhaps even educate some people. I hope that demonstrating demand will speed up adoption.
I am currently a Cisco employee, and the views expressed on this blog are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cisco. Writing this was my idea, not Cisco’s.
Appendix: UK ISPs
Most residential UK ISPs don’t seem to support IPv6; the ones that do appear to be more expensive than the bulk, at least for unlimited deals.
- Starting with the good news, AAISP support IPv6, but my impression is that their prices will work out more expensive for heavy users.
- Bogons also support IPv6.
- Claranet Soho might offer it. Their Network Operations page suggests checking with the support department.
- PlusNet did have an IPv6 trial, which they unfortunately cancelled.
- Be has been upgrading their network, which they appear to view as a prerequisite for offering IPv6. With the current sale to Sky I guess they have bigger worries on their mind.
- Zen: Not at the moment
- BT: Have setup a page which shows their IPv6 enabled services. Unfortunately, home broadband isn’t currently one of them, but if you’ve got one of their leased lines you might be more lucky..
- Sky: I don’t believe they currently have it, but during the world IPv6 launch day last year they said they were “preparing” it.
- Virgin Media: it does not look like they currently support it. Note that the forum team member suggests you call their business hotline to ask for further details (I assume if you’re interested in a business connection). Of course their statement about no UK ISPs currently supporting IPv6 is inaccurate.
- TalkTalk: Don’t seem to have any “information on IPv6”.
- EE: were clueless when I walked into their store. I don’t think they currently offer it in the UK.