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6 signs that the U.S. is overtaking the world at IPv6

Europe and Asia have no IPv4 addresses, but U.S. companies lead at IPv6-enabling users, content and products

By , Network World
September 24, 2012 12:07 AM ET

Network World - Having invented the Internet 40-odd years ago, the United States has had the first-mover advantage when it comes to selling products and services that run on this ubiquitous communications platform. Now the United States is pulling ahead of its global rivals on next-gen Internet services built around the emerging IPv6 standard.

During the last two years, U.S. ISPs, network hardware and software vendors, and Website operators have made major investments in time and capital to upgrade their offerings to support IPv6. As a result of this widespread effort, the latest IPv6 statistics indicate that the United States is the global leader in several categories, including the amount of IPv6-enabled users, Web content and networking products.

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IPv6 is an upgrade to the Internet's original addressing scheme, which is called IPv4. IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses and can support 4.3 billion devices connected directly to the Internet. IPv6, on the other hand, uses 128-bit addresses and can support a virtually limitless number of devices: 2 to the 128th power. IPv6 is necessary because the Internet is running out of IPv4 addresses. However, IPv6 is not backwards compatible with IPv4, requiring network operators to support both protocol at an added cost.

The United States is currently leading the world in these six categories of IPv6 deployment:

1. Users

The United States has more IPv6 users than any other nation in the world. There are 4,193,587 IPv6 users in the U.S. as of Sept. 19, according to APNIC. This compares to 3,717,564 IPv6 users in China and 2,411,587 IPv6 users in Japan. Romania, France and Luxembourg have a higher ratio of Internet users with IPv6 enabled, but the U.S. retains the lead in the total number of IPv6 users.

2. Content

U.S. Websites that drive the most page views are also the leaders in IPv6 deployment. Of the 10 most popular Websites on the Internet, five support IPv6. All five of these Websites - Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo and Wikipedia - are run by U.S. companies. Overall, the U.S. generated 13% -- or 399 -- of the 2,999 Websites that participated in the Internet Society's World IPv6 Launch Day in June.

3. Carriers

Akamai reports that six IPv6 access networks account for 86% of its IPv6 requests. Three of these networks — Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Comcast — are U.S. companies. The other leading IPv6 access networks are France's Free, Japan's KDDI and Romania's RCS & RDS, Akamai says. Akamai also reports that 73% of the IPv6 addresses that it sees are from the United States, a sign of carrier progress.

4. Traffic

North America is driving more IPv6 traffic than any other region of the world, according to Akamai. Here are the peak traffic volumes reported by Akamai for each region:

Region Peak IPv6 Traffic Volume Date

1. North America 92,891 hits/sec 9/11/2012

2. Europe 48,488 hits/sec 9/11/2012

3. Asia 14,540 hits/sec 7/8/2012

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