Previously, I interviewed Mr. John Jason Brzozowski, Chief Architect, IPv6 and Distinguished Engineer at Comcast. The result was “A Layman’s Guide to the IPv6 Transition.” In that article I wrote about how the Internet is running out of addresses for devices, and topics included:
- What is TCP/IP?
- Why is IPv4 Inadequate?
- What is the Industry Planning?
- How Will the Change Affect Your Computer?
- How Will the Change Affect Your Cable Modem?
- What About Your Other Home Devices?
I also covered security, costs and the timeline for Comcast’s rollout. If you missed that article, it’s a good intoduction to what this new technology is all about. That’s a good starting point if you missed it the first time around.
Time Warner’s Launch of IPv6
In this follow-up article, I asked Mr. Lee Howard, Director, Network Technology, with Time Warner Cable for his perspective on that first article and how TW is handling its own launch of IPv6. Here are my questions and his answers.
TMO: Is your implementation approach different from Comcast’s? If so, how?
LH: It’s very similar. The minor differences are deep into specifics of how we implement our networks, and would not be evident to users. Significantly, we’re both [Comcast and TW] deploying dual-stack implementations, not using one of the complicated transition technologies as our main strategy.
TMO: Are there any differences in technical requirements for computers? That is, will you also require at least Windows Vista and OS X Lion?
LH: Any operating system should work fine on our network; it’s just that some operating systems run IPv6 without user configuration. If an advanced user wants to install the IPv6 drivers available in Windows XP, that will work just fine (as long as they have a home gateway and cable modem supporting IPv6 traffic). Windows Vista and Windows 7, and Mac OS X, all include IPv6 support built-in.
TMO: Will IPv4 devices on the customer’s home network still work as before?
LH: Yes — we’re not taking away IPv4, we’re just adding IPv6. But as you noted at the end of your earlier article, if other ISPs start deploying Carrier Grade NAT (CGN), some applications won’t work as well. Our testing showed that head-to-head gaming, such as you’d see between friends on game consoles, didn’t work through CGN. Peer to peer file sharing also fails for seeding; however, it usually works for downloading.
[Author note: Carrier Grade NAT is a limited capability stop gap solution designed to (rather poorly) address the issue of IP address exhaustion. It was briefly discussed in the first article, linked to above.]
TMO: Like Comcast, do you also plan a roll out in 2012? Will it be optional?
LH: Yes, we’re in trials now, and expect broad deployment by mid-year. We’ve signed up for World IPv6 Launch*, committing to have IPv6 rolled out widely enough so that one percent of our users will reach participating websites over IPv6 by June 6, 2012. IPv6 may not be available everywhere by then, but we’ll offer it in many markets. We will be turning IPv6 on automatically, so that equipment that is capable of using it will just start using it. We haven’t seen any problems caused by IPv6 that would make someone want to disable it, but that option will be available.
TMO: Will there be any additional cost the customer? Monthly fee, new equipment, etc.
LH: We’re certainly not charging customers more to use IPv6! We encourage people to use IPv6, because it will help the industry avoid expensive CGN deployments in the future.
TMO: Do you plan to exercise an option to cycle/change the cable modem’s (or PC’s) IPv6 address from time to time? [This is a potential security measure.]
LH: We don’t change addresses on a regular schedule, but addresses (IPv4 or IPv6) will change from time to time due to network changes.
TMO: Is there a Time Warner reference site that has IPv6 information for customers?
LH: Sure. Here it is: http://www.timewarnercable.com/ipv6 [Author note, you’ll need to select one of the areas that does have have IPv6 testing, say, Colorado and Telluride. Then you’ll see a page of general information, FAQs, a “Test your IPv6 Connectivity” button, a statement from Time Warner’s Chief Technology Officer, Mike LaJoie, and an older but still informative “IPv6 Fact Sheet” in PDF format.]
As you can see, Time Warner and Comcast are taking pretty much the same technical approach as Comcast, and the result will be that the launch should be transparent for customers. However, one of the lingering issues is whether there needs to be any fine preference control of IPv6, available in AirpPort Utility 5.6 but not available in version 6.0. We’re still working on that issue, and I’ll update if I find out more.
Finally, if you have additional questions that are Time Warner specific, feel free to pose them in the comments below, and I’ll pass them on to Mr. Howard. For some additional background on all the cable company plans, here’s a general news item: “Cable Giants get Aggressive on IPv6.”
* This is a good site to look at. It has lots more information and the email addresses of the primary contacts for the Launch Day participants such as Akamai, AT&T, Cisco, Comcast, Time Warner and so on. IPv6 World Launch day is June 6, 2012.
Image credits: Globe: IStockPhoto; IPv6 badge used with permission, Creative Commons.