IPv6 is the next generation Internet Protocol that offers a vast number of new, longer IP addresses to overcome a looming shortage of the current IPv4 addresses, as the world approaches the ultimate exhaustion of IPv4 address space.
By releasing IPv6 services to its customer base, Internode has become the first Australian ISP to offer native IPv6 services nationally, according to the 'sixxs.net' web site (details at http://www.sixxs.net/faq/connectivity/?faq=ipv6transit)
Internode operates a native IPv6 network, spanning Australia and its international Points of Presence in the US and Japan. Internode's routers are running in 'dual stack' mode, allowing it to offer concurrent IPv4 and IPv6 services to its customers.
Internode managing director Simon Hackett said the decision to offer public access to IPv6 was part of "future-proofing" its customers' networks. "The Internet is approaching an address crunch point in the next few years," he said.
"The current IPv4 address space is simply running out of IP numbers, possibly as soon as 2011. Internode has chosen to invest in deploying IPv6 technology throughout its network now to give its customers the maximum amount of time to transition their own networks to the new address scheme."
Internode's backbone network now runs IPv6 natively, which allows it to connect with many peers and upstream network sources via the protocol. Internode customers can access IPv6 by two methods:
Full details of how to access IPv6 with Internode are available at http://ipv6.internode.on.net.
Mr. Hackett said Internode was also working on mechanisms to allow ADSL and other 'layer 2' customers to obtain native dual-stack access. "In the future, all Internode ADSL customers will have native IPv6 access as part of their normal ADSL service," he said. "Today, using our tunnel broker service, all interested customers nationally can start gaining experience with IPv6 right now."
Mr. Hackett added that IPv6 was essential for the Internet to continue growing. "We're about to use up our first four billion IPv4 addresses, so IPv6 gives us a vast new swathe of online real estate," he said.