IPv6 voice, mobility tested

* Second round of tests focused on IPv6 application-layer functionality

A team of university, military and corporate network engineers successfully demonstrated international voice calls and mobility applications running on IPv6, the long-anticipated upgrade to the Internet’s main communications protocol.

The tests were conducted from mid-November until early December on Moonv6, the world’s largest native IPv6 backbone. These tests, which focused on IPv6 application-layer functionality, came on the heels of military tests of IPv6 interoperability, conformance and performance that were covered in last week’s newsletter.

The University of New Hampshire (UNH) InterOperability Laboratory led the latest round of Moonv6 tests. Ten companies including Agilent, Check Point, HP, Hitachi, Ixia, Juniper, Lucent, Nortel, Spirent and Symantec participated in the recent tests.

Moonv6 is a joint operation of UNH, the U.S. Defense Department, the North American IPv6 Task Force and the Internet2 university consortium. It links approximately 80 servers, switches and routers located in sites from New Hampshire to California. Established in 2003, Moonv6 supports two rounds of testing each year.

Moonv6 exists to help boost deployment of IPv6, which 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.

For this round of tests, UNH focused on testing Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), security and voice services. The tests involved passing missed voice and data traffic over IPv6 and demonstrated basic application-layer functionality. UNH officials said IPv6 is showing progress but still has a way to go, especially in applications.

Most importantly, UNH engineers successfully completed VoIP calls between New Hampshire and Korea using software from Mercury, a Korean company. The calls were routed to Seoul, South Korea through an IPv4/IPv6 tunnel from the Moonv6 network in New Hampshire.

"Network operators interested in VoIP should definitely be watching IPv6," said Ben Schultz, IPv6 managing engineer and technical lead for UNH's Moonv6 effort. "VoIP will benefit from the simplified network architectures that IPv6 enables."

UNH engineers also ran network management and interoperability testing between firewalls, hosts and routers using IPSec. UNH engineers found that firewall functionality for IPv6 works at a basic level, but not all participants could support VoIP for IPv6.

UNH says that it ran the largest-ever test of DHCP over IPv6. UNH found that both DHCPv6 and DHCPv6 prefix delegation are working. UNH says that IPv6-cable routers are improving at DHCP and DNS resolution.

"In the past we’ve done some proof of concept testing with DHCP and DNS, but this time we are doing much more detailed testing to say what works and what happens if you add some complexity into those scenarios," Schultz says. "We are seeing more vendors that have DHCP implementations, and that’s a good sign."

A summary of the test results will be available on the UNH Interoperability Laboratory Web site in six weeks.

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