MTN has assured South Africans that it is ready for the carrying of IPv6 traffic as the ICT industry across the globe celebrated the launch of the protocol yesterday.
An IP address is allocated to each computer or mobile device that connects to the Internet. Most of these devices only support IPv4 and because the number of available IPv4 addresses is limited, IP address exhaustion has already occurred in some countries. South Africa is rapidly moving into a similar situation. IPv6 offers a potential 340 trillion trillion trillion unique addresses against IPv4’s mere four billion, according to IPv6.org. World IPv6 Launch Day aims to ensure the broadest uptake and permanent enablement by infrastructure providers of the 128-bit internet-layer protocol.
‚While there are temporary solutions to the exhaustion problem, the long term solution is to introduce a new address scheme, which is IPv6,‚ explains Devan Chetty, GM: Core & IP Planning at MTN SA. ‚IPv6 is the answer to the current address-space limitations of IPv4. IPv4 addresses comprise 32 bits whereas IPv6 consist of 128 bits and as a result, an extremely large number of unique addresses can be allocated. IPv6 will ensure that IP address exhaustion will never happen again. As a service provider with the needs of its customers in mind, MTN, which currently carries customers’ traffic using IPv4 addresses, has invested heavily in its network infrastructure to ensure that it is compatible with devices that have the new IPv6 address capability. This means that our customers will continue to enjoy an efficient data network that is capable of keeping them connected.‚
As mobile adoption continues to expand at a rapid pace, and is expected to surpass that of desktop usage by 2013, the number of mobile devices with IPv6 capability will increase. Subsequently, MTN expects traffic volumes to increase dramatically and therefore has developed its infrastructure to ensure that customers connecting online will not experience problems.
‚While there won’t be an immediate benefit from the consumer’s point of view, MTN customers will be able to enjoy the benefits of IPv6 when using a compatible device or modem on the MTN network,‚ notes Chetty. ‚In the future, data users will experience improved connection speeds when using IPv6. Consumers will have a globally unique IP address for each device which will make home networking and Peer-to-Peer connections possible. IPv6 has built-in security mechanisms which can be used for encryption of data. In addition, IPv6 provides enhanced QoS (Quality of Service) management thereby facilitating the best possible customer experience. Because IPv6 employs a fixed size header, it allows for faster routing of data thereby improving connection speeds. Consumers will enjoy these benefits only if their carrier’s network is capable of transporting IPv6 traffic. MTN is excited that its infrastructure is ready to expose its customers to an enhanced experience on IPv6 devices,‚ he concludes.
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