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The IPv6 summit themed “IPv6: Release connectivity potential, boost digital economy” took place as a hybrid event at this year’s MWC22 Barcelona.

The summit convened analysts and thought leaders from industry organizations, government regulators, carriers and vendors, and explored key topics surrounding IPv6 innovations to drive operator digital transformation, industry progress, as well as national digitalization ambitions.

Shedding expertise and insights on these topics were speakers namely Vint Cerf, Internet hall of fame pioneer; Latif Ladid, founder and president IPv6 Forum and chair of ETSI ISG IPE; H.E. Mr. Thulaganyo Merafe Segokgo; Richard Mahony, global consulting director, Omdia; Thomas Graf, distinguished network engineer and network analytics architect, Swisscom; Lloyd Mphahlele, general manager, transport and OSS tools, MTN; Calvin Govender, general manager, technology fixed line services, MTN SA; and Steven Zhao, vice president of Huawei data communication product line.

Adopting IPv6 and IPv6 Enhanced Innovations

IP networks are the cornerstone of digital development. Given the global trend of increasing 5G networks and IoT devices, as well as a growing dependence on cloud-based platforms and applications, releasing connectivity potential of networks is paramount to accelerating digital transformation across all industries and advancing digital economies.

Inadequate IPv4 resources will put significant constraints on 5G, IoT and cloud use cases and limit the universal access to the digital economy. In addition, rising acquisition and transactions costs of IPv4 addresses will constraint innovation and entrepreneurship. In contrast, IPv6, the next-generation IP protocol designed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to replace IPv4, not only increases the number of addressable devices, but also offers better network performance, security and manageability.

Noting that dual-stack IPv4 and IPv6 network is still a pragmatic approach now, Vint Cerf stressed that IPv6-only is the way forward to address IoT device proliferation and called on the industry to push for wider IPv6 adoption.

“Apart from addressing more devices, IPv6 adoption allows room for innovation in terms of directing traffic, and hence profitability for networks, whilst maintaining robust Internet growth for the rest of the 21st century,” said Vint Cerf.

The goal of the next generation of the Internet is to be more convenient, open, intelligent, and secure. IPv6 Enhanced Innovation is a comprehensive upgrade of IPv6-based network capabilities. It includes the IPv6-based protocol and IPv6+AI, which comprises the SRv6 protocol, network analysis, intelligent tuning, and other intelligent network technologies. IPv6 Enhanced Innovation comprehensively improves IP network capabilities by offering ubiquitous connectivity, ultra-high bandwidth, low latency, automation, as well as deterministic quality and security.

In his speech, Ladid shared that two-thirds of the world’s 1.9 billion IPv6 users are in Asia, with countries including China, US, France and UK already embracing IPv6 agendas. His vision is realizing “one Internet with an IPv6-only network” as more effort is channeled toward transiting from dual-stack IPv4 and IPv6 to IPv6-only.

“IPv6 will be widely used for next-generation services, as a gateway for devices to talk to one another. All devices will have unique IP addresses to achieve an end-to-end model fundamental to the Internet,” noted Latif. “Furthermore, with the growth in cloud computing, IPv6 is essential for countries to ensure data sovereignty.”

In the industry, there is a broad consensus on IPv6 Enhanced Innovation. To date, more than 30 IETF members, including Huawei, have participated in the development of related standards.

In his keynote speech entitled “IPv6 enhanced, the cornerstone of digitalization”, Zhao called on the industry to embrace IPv6 and IPv6 enhanced technologies as IP networks face new requirements brought about by rapid digitalization, particularly the advent of massive IoT, cloud-network convergence and deterministic services.

“To meet these new requirements, IPv6 enhanced technologies will further unleash the value of connectivity in terms of deterministic quality, programmability, intelligent O&M, and more”, said Zhao. “IPv6 enhanced not only drives innovation and entrepreneurship, digital economy transformation, S&T development, and economic growth in the post-pandemic era, but also plays an important role in the digitalization of numerous industries.”

In the operator sector, for instance, Zhao cited the use of IPv6 Enhanced Cloud-Network Express solution to help operators build differentiated cloud access private lines to deliver fast and optimal cloud access user experiences. On the access side, the one-box multi-connection solution helps users quickly access clouds. On the aggregation side, the pan-private line scheduling solution enables unified access and smooth evolution. On the backbone side, the SRv6-based intelligent cloud-map algorithm enables optimal scheduling of cloud-network resources.

Lending insights into digital transformation from an operator’s perspective, Mphahlele delved into core competencies of MTN’s intelligent cloud-network, built in partnership with Huawei to offer network-as-a-service, cloud-network synergy and leading customer experiences.

Elaborating further on MTN’s intelligent cloud-network, Govender said, “Through these investments, MTN offers customers one-stop connection to a multi-cloud environment for on-demand access, one-stop service provisioning and aggregator to customers, and deterministic service assurances to meet and exceed customers’ SLA requirements. This eases and simplifies customers’ cloud adoption, allowing MTN to drive market share in cloud services.”

IPv6 Enhanced Innovation can also accurately identify IPv6 packet attributes and provide corresponding services. This helps operators better understand the data status of the entire network and better allocate resources.

Segment routing reduces the amount of routing protocols, simplifies forwarding-place monitoring while enabling traffic engineering with closed loop. Graf shared that at Swisscom, network is transiting from MLPS over MPLS-SR to SRv6, leveraging network telemetry “to not only measure packets and bits, but also insights to customer packet delays in the network”.

Beyond the telecommunications sector, IPv6 Enhanced Innovation can also provide differentiated service capabilities to meet the requirements of applications in other industries including public service, finance, energy and education.

As the world anticipates growing digital consumption, Mahony expressed the need to “define new network functions, with IPv6 at the heart of this transition for networks to adapt and evolve”.

Finally, H.E. Mr. Thulaganyo shared Botswana’s digital transformation journey and lauded Huawei’s effort in providing training for ministry and regulatory staff to develop a roadmap for a phased and time-bound transition to IPv6 in the country.

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