Cisco Linksys routers still don't support IPv6

It's hard to fathom why Cisco hasn't added IPv6 to its Linksys consumer routers yet, but the company has promised support will come this spring.

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It's 2011, IPv4 addresses are officially exhausted, and the world's largest router maker, Cisco, still doesn't support IPv6 in its best-selling line of Linksys wireless routers. This is true even for the new E4200 router released just last month (priced at $180). The company has promised to have IPv6 support for the Linksys line by the spring but has not been specific.

The networking world has been aware of the IPv4 address shortage for years. Cisco's competitors D-Link and Netgear, for instance, have been offering certified IPv6 consumer routers for a while. Cisco's enterprise routers support IPv6 (naturally) and have also been certified by the IPv6 Forum. Cisco has been involved in World IPv6 Day trials and last year even began eating its own IPv6 dog food, serving IPv6 content via its Web site Heck, PC clients have had IPv6 support as an optional add-in since Windows XP SP2 and by default since Vista. Mac OS has supported IPv6 since 2004.

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< p >Network World contacted Cisco and asked for more information on Cisco's plans for its consumer routers. We asked, if "plans to support IPv6 in the spring," meant that people who buy new routers now will be able to get an upgrade that adds IPv6? If so, we wanted to know if that upgrade would be free, or how much it would cost.

Updated: Cisco did not immediately address those questions, but offered this official statement:

"IPv6 is foundational to the next-generation Internet, enabling a range of new services and improved user experiences. As ISPs begin rolling out IPv6 service to their customers, consumers will need new routers and gateways that support IPv6 to participate in this next generation Internet. Later this spring, Cisco will begin enabling IPv6 across its consumer line of routers including the Linksys E4200 Maximum Performance Dual-Band Wireless-N Router. It is critical that consumers begin looking for products and devices that support IPv6. Cisco has been and will continue to be a leader in the development of IPv6 so consumers can feel confident that products from Cisco will provide top-line performance now as well as providing a foundation for the future."

After reading the statement we asked Cisco if the words, "consumers will need new routers and gateways that support IPv6" meant that Cisco will require its customers to buy new routers with IPv6 support when those routers become available. We asked again if there would be some path for those who have recently bought new routers to get IPv6 when Cisco deploys it, and if those owning older routers will also be offered IPv6 support.

Updated: We received no response. After waiting three business days for a response, Cisco finally told us, "The Linksys E4200 we just launched and Linksys routers that will be launched this year will support iPV6  - out of the box or via a firmware update (free of charge)." Cisco has not yet shared information on if current users of Linksys routers will be offered an upgrade for routers they already own.

When we asked Netgear similar questions, a company spokesperson told us, "Most Netgear routers today not only support IPV6, but are certified as well. We are working on IPv6 support for all our current shipping routers and it will be available to customers in the form of a firmware upgrade."

For example, Netgear's IPv6 Forum's certified routers include the WNDR3700, WNR1000, WNDR3400, WNR3500L and WNR3500. Its new dual-band gigabit router, the WNDR3800, announced at CES and competing with the Linksys E4200, will also support IPv6 when it ships in the spring. Likewise, the IPv6 Forum listed dozens of other consumer routers that are already certified and ready for the day when they would be asked to route an IPv6 address.

In the meantime, might we recommend that you follow Cisco's advice and "begin looking for products and devices that support IPv6"? Just sayin'.

Julie Bort is the editor of Network World's Cisco Subnet community site. She also writes the Microsoft Update and Source Seeker blogs. Follow Bort on Twitter @Julie188.

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