Survey: U.S. foot-dragging on IPv6 setting country back

Federal government urged to establish IPv6 transition office.

Foreign nations' head start in adopting IPv6 will negatively impact the United States, according to a study commissioned by Juniper.

Eighty-six percent of 1,000 respondents believe there will be a negative impact to the United States for dragging its feet on IPv6 adoption, according to the The IPv6 Government Action Study. Seventy percent felt the delay would hit U.S. technological leadership, 62% felt it would impact national security and 58% believe it will affect U.S. influence over Internet stability. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget has required the federal government transition from IPv4 to IPv6 by June 2008.

Juniper and SynExi, a company founded by IPv6 technologists, conducted the study with the aim of examining the status of IPv6 transformation in the U.S. government. The survey respondents included officials from federal, defense and state/local government organizations, and IT “decision makers.”

IPv6 promises easier administration, tighter security and an enhanced addressing scheme over IPv4, the Internet’s current protocol. IPv6, which uses a 128-bit addressing scheme, supports a virtually limitless number of uniquely identified systems on the 'Net, while IPv4 supports only a few billion systems because it uses a 32-bit addressing scheme.

In addition to the technology, security and Internet influence concerns, the study also indicates that 30% of federal and state/local government executives will be influenced by the transition to IPv6 in their IT purchasing decisions, which equates to $39 billion in government IT spending where IPv6 will have an impact. By 2008, IPv6 influence will jump to 44%, or an estimated $62 billion.

Also, 85% of respondents felt the federal government should play an active role in the commercial adoption of IPv6 in the United States. Fifty-three percent also believe that the federal government should provide guidance and some level of funding to support the U.S. private sector transition to IPv6, and 75% believe that a U.S. Government IPv6 Transition Office would be very or somewhat helpful in this effort, assuming it received the proper levels of funding and authority.

"[The study] clearly conveys the need for a centralized IPv6 Transition Office to coordinate the continued transition and for a national strategy to help transition the country to IPv6," said Dr. Chuck Lynch, co-founder of SynExi and former lead DoD technologist for IPv6, in a statement. "The Internet has become a critical differentiator for the U.S. and we need to maintain leadership as we move into the future."

Sixty-seven percent of industry respondents said the government IPv6 transition will speed the inclusion of IPv6 capabilities in their organizations' products and services.

In the past 16 months, the importance of IPv6 in supporting federal agencies' overall IT goals has grown from 44% to 64% within the defense community, and 27% to 49% within the civilian community, Juniper says. Additionally, 34% of defense executives claim that their agencies have a written IPv6 transition plan, as compared with 12% in May 2005, the company says.

For civilian executives, 25% have a written IPv6 transition plan, as compared with 4% in May 2005, according to Juniper.

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