IPv6 is the next generation Internet Protocol that offers a vast number of new, longer IP addresses to overcome the upcoming exhaustion of new IP version 4 addresses, expected within the next two years.
Internode has operated a native IPv6 backbone since the middle of 2008, with routers running in 'dual stack' mode, allowing it to provide concurrent IPv4 and IPv6 services. However, to date, the only customers who could use IPv6 were those with a direct Ethernet connection to Internode's network or those able to undertake the complex configuration required to "tunnel" IPv6 through an IPv4 connection.
Today's announcement marks the first time an Australian broadband provider has offered IPv6 services running in native mode on its national ADSL network: This means that IPv6 can work directly with any Internode ADSL service, offering concurrent IPv6 and IPv4 PPP access with any router or computer that supports it.
The trial is intended for technically experienced customers who are familiar with IPv6; Internode expects any customers participating in the trial to be comfortable with IPv6 configuration and to provide feedback on the operation of the service, in order to assist Internode to deliver its full production-grade IPv6 service offering by mid 2010.
Internode managing director Simon Hackett said Internode appreciated the assistance of any technically experienced customers who wanted to participate in the trial. "This is the first public Australian national trial of native IPv6 for ADSL customers," he said.
"Our objective is to ensure that Internode has the most experience of any Australian broadband provider with the operation and support of native IPv6. By the time IPv6 becomes a necessary part of connecting new users to the Internet, Internode will offer the very best 'production' IPv6 service available in Australia. At that point, for all customers, IPv6 will 'just work'."
Only a small number of consumer ADSL routers available in Australia currently support IPv6. Internode currently recommends using a Cisco device such as the Cisco 877 ADSL router running IOS 12.4 or above, or using an ADSL router placed into 'bridge' mode with a PPPoE based IPv6 connection directly from a personal computer. IPv6 support is built into current versions of Macintosh OS X, Microsoft Windows and Linux.
Internode is working with various manufacturers of ADSL2+ routers to encourage their support of native IPv6 access. Internode expects to announce the availability of IPv6 firmware support for a variety of ADSL2+ routers during the course of the trial.
Mr. Hackett continued: "There has historically been a 'chicken and egg' problem with IPv6, where ADSL router vendors have not supported IPv6 because no network was ready to run IPv6, and vice versa. We have broken that impasse – and we invite any further ADSL2+ router vendors with IPv6 capability to test those routers on our network and prove their own IPv6 readiness."