Comcast plans to expand its IPv6-based offerings for business customers with the launch of commercial broadband and Metro Ethernet services that support the next-gen Internet Protocol later this year.
John Brzozowski, chief architect for IPv6 and distinguished engineer at Comcast, said the ISP will start a trial of IPv6-enabled commercial broadband service in May. Aimed at small businesses, home offices and teleworkers, the new IPv6-enabled cable modem service will be available in Philadelphia, Denver and Silicon Valley first.
"We've completed the rollout of IPv6 on half of our broadband network," Brzozowski said. "Wherever we've upgraded our network, that's where we are going to start with our commercial broadband service."
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Later in 2013, Comcast plans to announce IPv6 support for its Metro Ethernet service.
"We've had quite a few people asking us to enable IPv6 on Metro E, not to the tune of hundreds of thousands but more than we anticipated," Brzozowski said.
The new IPv6 capabilities will available at no extra charge to Comcast's business customers.
Comcast will post a link on its website -- http://www.comcast6.net/ --where commercial broadband customers can sign up for the IPv6 trial.
Comcast will finish deploying IPv6 to all of its residential customers in 2013. Currently, more than 3% of its residential customer base is actively using IPv6. "We expect that 3% to increase dramatically by the end of the year," Brzozowski said.
He added that the biggest roadblock to IPv6 deployment right now is lack of support by consumer electronics manufacturers, particularly those that produce TVs, Blue ray players and game consoles.
The Internet needs IPv6 because it is running out of addresses using the original version of the Internet Protocol, called IPv4. IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses and can support 4.3 billion devices connected directly to the Internet. IPv6, on the other hand, uses 128-bit addresses and provides such a vast number of addresses that it can only be expressed mathematically: 3.4 times 10 to the 38th power.