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Network World - Forget Mardi Gras. Brazil is hosting a party for techies only this week to encourage deployment of IPv6, the next-generation Internet Protocol.
Brazil's IPv6 Week, which runs Feb. 6-12, has prompted dozens of Web sites across the country - and in Latin America and the Caribbean, too -- to turn on IPv6 alongside the current version of the Internet Protocol, known as IPv4.
BACKGROUND: IPv6 due for wide deployment in 2012
More than 120 organizations are participating in IPv6 Week, including carrier Telefonica, Portuguese content provider UOL; Brazilian TV network Globo, Brazilian video streaming company IG, and Spanish Web portal Terra.
Participating Web sites have agreed to support both IPv4 and IPv6 traffic for the week, while regional ISPs are offering IPv6 connectivity to businesses and homes for testing purposes.
"IPv6 Week started in Brazil, but it has become regional. Many content providers from other countries are involved in this activity," says Arturo Servin, CTO for LACNIC , the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Address Registry, which provides IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to carriers and enterprises in the region. "We're trying to get some movement from providers and ISPs in the region and get them to start working on IPv6 so they are more prepared."
Brazil's IPv6 Week is similar to World IPv6 Day, a 24-hour IPv6 test that was sponsored by the Internet Society in June of last year.
Carriers and content providers need to test IPv6 thoroughly and deploy it carefully because it is not backwards compatible with IPv4, which is running out of addresses. IPv6 solves the addressing limitations of IPv4 and can support billions of devices connected directly to the Internet. Network and Web site operators can either support both protocols in what's called dual-stack mode or translate between IPv4 and IPv6, which could add latency and cost.
Until recently, Latin America lagged the rest of the developed world on IPv6 deployment. One reason is that LACNIC isn't expected to run out of IPv4 addresses until January 2014. In contrast, Asia has already run out of IPv4 addresses, Europe is expected to deplete its supply this year, and North America's pool of IPv4 addresses will be gone next year.
"I don't know if it's to our advantage or our disadvantage that LACNIC is not running out of IPv4 addresses yet," Servin says. "For a long time, ISPs here didn't talk about IPv6. They think they can take things slowly and relax. But they aren't taking into account that IPv4 is gone in other regions. Asia Pacific doesn't have IPv4 addresses, so they are moving the Internet ahead in so many ways. It's important for the whole Internet to move to IPv6.''
The Brazilian Network Information Center, which operates the .br registry, came up with the idea for IPv6 Week to raise awareness among ISPs and content providers in the region that they need to start working on IPv6 deployment. Other organizations that helped publicize the week-long IPv6 trial include LACNIC and the Internet Society.