Global Crossing is rolling out its first IPv6 implementation and plans to make a commercial offering of the next-generation IP available later this year, company officials said.
Global Crossing's first IPv6 beta production network is a research and education customer in the U.K., company spokesman Scott Gardiner said. The carrier declined to name the customer.
The company also said it will offer Internet access for IPv6 through its IP VPN service later this year. The ISP says it has installed IPv6-enabled routers in California, Virginia, Illinois and the Netherlands.
Developed by the IETF, IPv6 promises easier administration, tighter security and an enhanced addressing scheme when compared to 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.
Although the IPv6 protocol was finalized a decade ago, the technology is just beginning to attract the attention of enterprise customers in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Defense is one of the first and largest organizations to commit to IPv6 migration. Other early adopters include Defense contractors and high-tech equipment vendors such as Cray and Juniper.
Ed Bursk, vice president, government, for Global Crossing, points out the advantages that the ISP has because it has developed its network over the last several years using the latest technologies including IPv6.
"We have built out a worldwide, secure 10G capable, IPv4 and IPv6 infrastructure, which sounds an awful lot like the [Defense Department's] Global Information Grid," Bursk says. "So we're trying very hard to work with the government and help them with that project."
Bursk points out that Global Crossing held onto its 100,000-plus route-miles fiber network during its bankruptcy proceedings. The network spans Asia, crosses the Pacific into the U.S., includes a U.S. backbone, crosses the Atlantic into the U.K. and includes a Western European backbone. It also goes into Latin America.
"I don't think anybody is ever going to build anything like that again," Bursk says. "You can go from Australia to Germany on an IP basis in one hop. The performance is tremendous and the reach is huge."
Global Crossing's IPv6 push is part of a broader effort by the ISP to beef up its government and corporate business.
Global Crossing's largest customer is the U.K. government, and it has a major push underway to build up a similar customer base in the U.S. federal market. In particular, Global Crossing is bidding on Networx, a 10-year, $20 billion telecommunications services deal for all U.S. federal agencies that requires both IPv4 and IPv6 services.
The carrier already supports the Defense Information Systems Agency, which is the Defense Department's IT services arm, as well as the U.S. Air Force. Global Crossing plans to bid on an upcoming Defense Department procurement for access services that requires IPv6 compliance.
Along with its IPv6 development efforts, Global Crossing is taking a higher profile in the IPv6 community. It was recently a sponsor of The Coalition Summit for IPv6, which was held in Reston, Va., in May. The IPv4/IPv6 connectivity at that event was provided Global Crossing, Juniper and Northrop Grumman.
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