Why Belgium leads the world in IPv6 adoption

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Yes, Belgium. Every time you read a story or visit a website devoted to worldwide IPv6 adoption rates, sitting atop the list of highest achievers is Belgium, otherwise better known for chocolate, waffles, beer and diamonds. Google, for example, has worldwide IPv6 adoption at about 12%, Belgium leading at 45%.

For an explanation I turned to Eric Vyncke, co-chair of Belgium’s IPv6 Council. I emailed him a half-dozen questions about technology and culture and such that essentially could have been boiled down to one: Why Belgium? Here is his reply:

Regarding the success of Belgium, I am also a little unsure (as to) THE reason for being number one, I see a couple (without any priority order):

  • A small and dense country -- 11 million people -- and the longest distance is only about 150 miles. So, usually the broadband (cable or xDSL) is everywhere.
  • Except for the 'incumbent' ISP (Proximus ex-Belgacom, mainly xDSL), the other ones (mainly cable) were running short of IPv4 addresses.
  • There is a 'secret' (memorandum of understanding) between the ISP Association, cyber police, regulators, minister of economic affairs (one ISP contract must be comparable with others) to limit the sharing of 1 IPv4 address to a maximum of 16 subscribers; this put a big constraint on NAT/CGN.
  • The culture in Belgium is also a mix of German and Latin culture, this means that we usually can see the long term and that we do not care too much about processes.
  • The 3 major ISPs met during the IPv6 Council meetings and began to share experience and roadmap => nothing beats emulation :-).
  • And all members of the IPv6 Council are in the same generation (between 35-55), with supportive management, and ready to take risk and push the 'message' to others.

Finally, I asked Vyncke if there is any recognition of Belgium’s lofty IPv6 status among the country’s general population.

“Besides technical people, nearly nobody in Belgium knows that we are number 1 for now (because the mobile ISPs are very, very late).”

That should change. Be proud, Belgians. Be proud.

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