Taken to task

Etisalat throws its weight behind a Global IPv6 Forum initiative to boost deployment of the new protocol in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

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By  Simon Duddy Published  April 16, 2005

|~|IPv6-sit_m.jpg|~|(from left to right) Latif Ladid, the president of the IPv6 Forum and Nasser Bin Obood, the deputy CEO of Etisalat.|~|The Global IPv6 Forum inaugurated the United Arab Emirates (UAE) internet protocol version 6 (IPv6) Task Force during the second Gulf IPv6 Summit, which recently took place in Abu Dhabi. Key task force members Etisalat and Case Technology aim to use the initiative to speed up the deployment of IPv6. The task force is an open body that provides a wide platform for the business, research and education sectors to create education programmes and test beds on the subject as well as make recommendations to the international IPv6 Forum. “Etisalat is committing time and resources to helping the task force increase the deployment of IPv6 to enable IP-based devices to communicate and interoperate in a more efficient manner,” says Essa Al Haddad, the executive vice president of engineering at Etisalat. The internet protocol version 4 (IPv4) addressing schema is rapidly running out of unique addresses and according to the task force, IPv6 is the answer. IPv4’s 32 bit system supports 4.3 billion numbers and, in theory, the same amount of network nodes. IPv6, on the other hand, is built around an address space of 128 bits and can support 3.4 W 10^38 (3.4 dodecillion) addresses. The summit hammered home the message that IPv6 is important in paving the way for future mobile IP deployments. Several speakers emphasised the business benefits to be gained and revenue opportunities that could be generated by having more mobile devices IP-enabled. While IPv6 is not necessary for IP mobility, the processes associated with Mobile IPv6 are much less complex than those associated with Mobile IPv4. “Mobility is a great application for IPv6. If a company wants to, for example, push information to its mobile sales force and get information back from them, IPv6 is the way to go,” says Yves Poppe, Teleglobe Canada’s director of IP strategy. “However, it’s better to say, let’s make networks IPv6-enabled to bring in new applications and increase revenue, rather than pitching it as a cost,” he adds. Uptake of IPv6 is still in early stages in the Middle East with service providers typically experimenting with the technology, although, some enterprises are also looking closely. One example is Saudi Aramco, which sees IPv6 as an enabler for multicasting. Multicasting allows the enterprise to broadcast the same information simultaneously to many receivers much more efficiently than through unicast. “Multicasting is difficult with IPv4, whereas IPv6, partly because of the built-in rendezvous point (RP) mechanism, makes it easier,” says Saleh Al Buraiky, communication network engineer at Saudi Aramco. “We’re researching now because it is important to design networks from the beginning to handle multicasting,” he adds. The task force is hopeful that the UAE, with its population concentrated in urban centres will allow the transition to IPv6 to be made quickly. However, the enthusiasm of the speakers at the summit occasionally spilled over into frustration in response to sceptical attendees complaining of a lack of IPv6 applications driving deployments. Latif Ladid, the president of the IPv6 Forum in turn complained that networks in the region lagged behind those in other regions. Certainly compared to other parts of the world such as the industrialised Far East, with its widespread broadband adoption, this is the case. The key message of the summit was that the network community should take the initiative to rectify the situation, with the task force saying that once the infrastructure is in place, then developers will be encouraged to create compatible applications, thus driving use. “It is a chicken and egg situation,” says Hisham Soliman, advanced networking specialist at Flarion Austria. “But the fact is that the killer application for IPv6 will never come until the network is there,” he states.||**||

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