IP addresses are running out, given the limitations of the four-block 32-bit addressing system currently in place. Reports say that IPv4 addresses will run out within the year, and so the online community needs to work on the transition to IPv6 soon. In the Asia-Pacific region, China is seen to be taking the lead in iPv6 adoption, given the growing demand for IP addresses and the country's leadership potential in developing network technologies in the region.

When IPv4 was first implemented, the 4.3 billion IP addresses were thought to be enough, but history has proven otherwise. The last IP blocks' recent assignment to regional registries seems to be IPv4's curtain call, and so carriers and enterprises will need to support IPv6 to be able to connect new clients and devices. Speaking at the ongoing Asia Pacific Regional Internet Conference on Operational Technologies and the Asia-Pacific Advanced Network (APRICOT-APAN Conference) in Hong Kong, Paul Wilson, director general of the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) lauded China as a potential leader in IPv6 adoption in the region.

"China is a huge (Internet) manufacturing base, and its potential to explore IPv6 technology has already been seen. China is a partner, a suppler, and a customer, which has a huge role in potential leadership on IPv6," Wilson said.

Three Stages of Transition

In China, the move from IPv4 to IPv6 was laid out by the Chinese government through its China Next Generation Internet (CNGI) initiative, and is supported by majority of commercial, academic, government and industrial facilities. For one, China Telecom set a firm schedule for IPv6 adoption within its network, executed in three stages.

First stage led up to 2011, which involved reforming its platform to support IPv6 and setting up the foundation for a transition. Second phase is from 2012 through 2015, which will involve the partial commercialization phase, in which IPv4 and IPv6 will coexist. After 2015, the complete commercialization phase is expected, in which IPv4 use will gradually be eliminated. Wilson says China is currently at the second stage.

Learning Opportunities

Getting the Job Done

At the same conference, Google Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist, Vint Cerf -- who is known as among the founding fathers of the Internet -- shared these sentiments, highlighting the long-term importance of IPv6 adoption. "What I think is important is concentrating on getting the job done, which is not deeply hard, but very meticulous," he says.

Governments throughout the rest of the Asia Pacific region are likewise starting to implement their IPv6 roadmaps. For instance, India is targeting a 2012 deadline for IPv6 deployment. The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) technical working group on telecommunications has likewise initiated draft guidelines for member economies in adopting IPv6.

The move from IPv4 to IPv6 will mostly be a concern of backbone and service providers, though. Consumers are not likely to notice any changes on the client end, assuming their terminals (computers, smartphones, tablets) are already IPv6-compliant. Still, with the steadily growing demand for mobile devices, consumers and enterprises had better get ready for the gradual, but big, move.