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Testing shows IPv6 is becoming deployable in customer edge routers

By Timothy Winters, a senior manager at the University of N.H. InterOperability Lab, Network World
December 12, 2011 10:26 AM ET

Network World - Network World is publishing this report in its entirety as a community service.

The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) hosted its third IPv6 Customer Edge (CE) Router Interoperability Test Event the week of November 7-11, 2011. The event brought together users and suppliers of CE Router equipment in order to gain perspective on the current status of interoperability against the Internet Engineering Task Force's (IETF) Basic Requirements for IPv6 Customer Edge Routers (document draft-ietf-v6ops-6204bis-02).

During the IPv6 CE Router event the UNH-IOL used publically routable IPv6 addresses, allowing participants to connect to the global IPv6 Internet. The eight participating vendor companies tested a total of 12 distinct CE Router implementations throughout the week. Participants included Actiontec, Broadcom, Cisco, D-Link, Lantiq, Motorola Mobility, and Time Warner.

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An IPv6 CE Router is a customer edge router intended for use in a home or small office environment. The router connects the end-user network to a service provider network and forwards packets not explicitly addressed to it. Implementing IPv6 on CE Routers is necessary in order to sustain growth and usability of the Internet.

While IPv6 is the solution for keeping current customers connected and adding new customers to the network as the supply of remaining allocated IPv4 addresses reaches exhaustion, it is not widely deployed in broadband networks at this time. With that said, operators are deploying native IPv6 on operational networks when possible. One effect of the IPv6 transition is that some operators are choosing to implement native IPv6 without native IPv4 on new network deployments. In cases where an access network is not dual-stack (both IPv4 and IPv6), operators are looking to transition mechanisms, such as 6RD and DS-Lite, to help connect their subscribers to both IPv4 and IPv6 networks. As more networks become IPv6 operational, these mechanisms will continue to be refined and help ease end-users through the transition.

Going forward, the UNH-IOL will continue to host IPv6 CE Router Interoperability Test Events in order to help operators to find solutions to interoperability challenges that may be experienced in the transition, thereby cost-effectively speeding IPv6 broadband deployments.

Test Methodologies

The tests executed during this event were performed in order to verify that an IPv6 CE Router implements IPv6 routing; that is, that the IPv6 CE Router properly looks up IPv6 addresses in the routing table and sends them to the correct interface, as well as acts like a proper IPv6 node as defined by the IETF. Tests were also designed to verify the WAN side configuration, specifically that a node supports protocols necessary to enable IPv6 deployment on multiple network access architectures. LAN side configuration testing was limited due to time constraints.

The following common topology was used for all test cases.

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