my second FCC TAC meeting, and its IPv6 promise

April 30th, 2011 by kc

I recently remotely attended my second meeting of the FCC’s Technological Advisory Council (slides but no video archives). The chairs of four working groups created at the first TAC meeting (Critical Transitions; IPv6; Broadband Infrastructure Deployment; and Sharing Opportunities) presented their interim results. The FCC then issued a set of “TAC recommendations” (which the TAC never saw); it is mostly a wish list from industry to the FCC. Ironically, IPv6 did not appear anywhere in the recommendations, despite being the most popular topic at the first TAC meeting last November, and despite us running out of IPv4 addresses since the last TAC meeting. But the TAC’s IPv6 WG did commit to (on slide 53) delivering a report by November 2011 on what the FCC could or should do to help promote IPv6 deployment. Specifically, the WG has the following charter:

The purpose of the IPv6 Transition Working Group is to outline the issues confronting the US Internet infrastructure as it evolves to a new IPv6 addressing system, define baselines associated with the transition that can be used to more effectively gauge progress and provide comparison with other global regions, develop goals for key sectors that can be used to accelerate this transformation and identify major cost and market drivers controlling investment in this infrastructure

Members of the TAC IPv6 working group are: Charlotte Field, chair (Comcast), Nomi Bergman (Bright House Networks), Erwin Hudson (WildBlue Communications), Kevin Kahn (Intel), Hilton Nicholson (SIXNET), Jack Waters (Level3), Mark Gorenberg (Hummer Winblad), Brian Markwalter (Consumer Electronics Association), Randy Nicklas (XO Communications), myself (CAIDA/UCSD) and Walter Johnston of the FCC.

No Internet service providers want to be regulated (or have admitted so publicly), but some providers have expressed concern with the complexity of the transition to IPv6, or lack thereof — so much concern that they are willing to consider whether the government can do anything to help. Also, many parts of the ecosystem (content providers, consumer electronics firms, infrastructure providers) have expressed interest in better understanding service provider IPv6 deployment activities to inform their own deployment plans. I was asked to gather existing, and recommend future collection of, data to inform IPv6 deployment in the United States.

The good news is that there is more IPv6 data than there used to be, especially in Europe, where they extended our ARIN-sponsored IPv6 survey work to regular reporting in Europe. The bad news is that all the available data still indicates that IPv6 growth is minimal to zero (to negative, for some recent tunneled traffic observations), and providers continue to perceive more bottlenecks than incentives.

The European and Asian RIRs continue to lead IPv6 measurement and empirical studies. RIPE is tracking the number of networks announcing IPv6 connectivity (over 9%!) and supports a tool for measuring IPv6 capabilities via web browsers and posts results from participating sites. RIPE is also participating in World IPv6 day on 8 June 2011. Geoff Huston of APNIC is also regularly reporting measurements and studies of IPv6 deployment (and failures). Tor Anderson of Norway collates links to other IPv6 data as well as providing his own dual-stack web-based measurements.

I was also asked to list what data from carriers would help track the transition, which is not too different from my recommended list of what data should be collected under the BTOP awards. Any or all of the following data would provide a richer picture of IPv6 than we have now:

  1. Peering: Terms of IPv6 interconnection agreements
  2. Purchasing: IPv6-capable hardware and software
  3. Workload: Total and peak utilization of access links (IPv6)
  4. Traffic characteristics: types of traffic using IPv6, e.g., using router flow measurements
  5. Total and peak utilization on interconnection links to other networks (IPv4 and IPv6)
  6. IPv4 and IPv6 address utilization (absolute and %), allocation, and BGP routing dates, i.e., when addresses were first announced
  7. IPv6 support strategies used (e.g., tunneling details)
  8. Topology: router connectivity and geolocation info (to compare against external reachability measurements)
  9. IPv6 DNS queries/response data

But as I said about the BTOP requirements, I did not expect the FCC or NTIA would manage to enforce anything close to them, given the industry’s counterincentives to sharing data. And I found out later that none of those data requirements made it to the BTOP contracts. Some at the FCC feel that providers are more likely to volunteer data related to IPv6, I guess we’ll see.

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