Modern society largely depends on electronic communications networks. Communications networks use various communication protocols; however, the key communication protocol on which the global internet is based is the Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4). Every device that connects to this network must have a unique number (IP address), with which is identifies itself to the network, allowing it to be available to and communicate with other devices. And there are ever more devices and things connecting to the internet.
The pool of available IPv4 addresses has become fully exhausted, as they have already been allocated to the first movers. The European internet registrar RIPE NCC announced on 25 November 2019 that it has assigned the final /22 block of IPv4 addresses. This does not mean that the internet will stop working because of this, but it is a major obstacle for new entrants to the market and existing users (operators, companies), as they can no longer obtain an IPv4 address block free of charge. Rather, they are forced to either purchase one or use a complex translation mechanism (e.g. CG-NAT).
The IETF, which ensures the development of the internet and internet standards has developed the Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6); however, it has only been picking up in the past few years, as the depletion of IPv4 address space and the increasing number of always connected devices forced the industry, internet service providers, and content providers to begin introducing IPv6. Most of current hardware and software already comes with support for IPv6, as all major content providers (Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.) have been providing their content also over IPv6, with the major bottleneck now lying in the access networks through which end users access the internet.
The level of IPv6 implementation differs across the world; data from Google for Slovenia (December 2019 here and here) show that IPv6 makes up just over 10% of total traffic, and according to the data from Akamai this places us in 49th place globally. The relative low share of IPv6 traffic is the result of the fact that Slovenian operators have not sufficiently (or at all) activated IPv6 on their network.
The Agency's activities in IPv6 implementation
The Agency carefully monitors the implementation of IPv6 among Slovenian operators and providers of electronic communications services. It also participates in the promotion of and encourages the operators and other stakeholders to accelerate the implementation of IPv6. The Agency published the technical document that provides a comprehensive insight into the particulars of IPv6 and the required activities for switching at the level of the network and network elements.
The Agency also actively collaborates with the Slovenian IPv6 initiative go6, the main Slovenian promoter of IPv6, and a major factor accelerating operators’ roll-out sooner than would have otherwise occurred. The initiative led to the first draft of specifications and the requirements for IPv6 network equipment functionalities, which were later adopted and defined in more detail by RIPE NCC in its document RIPE-554.
The implementation of IPv6 is also encouraged by the ministry competent for electronic communications, which ordered the study on switching to IPv6 between 2010 and 2015, and together with ARNES set up the Slovenian website on the implementation of IPv6. The study on switching to IPv6 is published in Slovenian and English and licensed under Creative Commons. The implementation of IPv6 (https://ipv6.si/) is one of the websites where a Slovenian user can get all necessary information about the basics and the introduction of IPv6.
One of the major indicators of readiness for IPv6 are the services that an individual organization provides to its users. The IPv6 Deployment status website from Eric Vyncke (Cisco Systems) has a current overview of Slovenian portals and websites that are available over IPv6.