The world is transiting from the use of Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPV4) to Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPV6) based on the fact that the keeper of the free address pool, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, (IANA) in February, 2011 fully allocated and exhausted all of the IPv4 Addresses.
However, investigation has shown that 35 organisations in Nigeria have so far acquired these IPV6 addresses, while only four of the organisations are partially making use of the IPV6 on the internet.
The enquiry also revealed that in Nigeria many of these organizations are using the Network translation system in their operation; hence Tony Nwakaegho has to undertake an investigation to unearth why these organisations are reluctant to migrate to IPV6.
A NAT (Network Address Translation or Network Address Translator) is the virtualization of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. NAT helps improve security and decrease the number of IP addresses an organization needs.
Network address translation (NAT) is a method of remapping one IP address space into another by modifying network address information in Internet Protocol (IP) datagram packet headers while they are in transit across a traffic routing device. The technique was originally used for ease of rerouting traffic in IP networks without renumbering every host. It has become a popular and essential tool in conserving global address space allocations in face of IPv4 address exhaustion by sharing one Internet-routable IP address of a NAT gateway for an entire private network.
Mr Yemi Adedoyin of Broadband and Converged Solution Phase 3 Telecom in an interview with Daily Times explained that translation will still be in effect because there are challenges to migrate to IPV6, so people in IPV4 are using the translation so that they can put the limited IPV4 public IP address into multipurpose use in their offices and still be able to connect to the internet.
“But as people migrate from IPV4 to IPV6 there will be no need for that translation. The reason why they are doing that translation is because there is not enough IP addresses to go round, but once people migrate to IPV6 there will be enough IP address system to go round so you don’t need to do translation. Translation is just using few numbers to map to one IP address system,” he said.
Commenting on the reason why those organizations don’t want to migrate immediately to IPV6, he said that all over the world there is some traction from migrating for IPV4 to IPV6 because they are two different networks that cannot operate together, adding that most people already have the IPV4 may not find it necessary to migrate to IPV6 particularly for instance if there is no commercial advantage to migrating into IPV6.
“So if I am in IPV4 and I see that I don’t have too many customers or clients I can still stay there,” he noted.
He emphasized that Nigerians from now on should ensure that the appliances and equipment they buy are IPV6 compatible so that if Nigeria migrate from now till the next 20 years from IPV4 to IPV6 with the equipment you have now, you don’t need to buy new equipment.
“So you will have equipment that is IPV4 compatible and equipment that is IPV6 compatible at the same time. So if you are working in an IPV4 network your equipment works and if you are operating in IPV6 network your equipment also works. The IPV4 equipment will not be discarded they will work side by side with IPV6 equipment,” he explained.
Adedoyin disclosed that there are 35 organisations in Nigeria that have acquired IPV6 but only four are partially using them, stressing that it is so because even globally apart from T Mobile of the UK that has such equipment, completely IPV6 network and a few Universities in China that have complete IPV6 networks we don’t have networks that are entirely IPV6.
“So if I have a website that is IPV4 and I have an IPV6 address it cannot be accessed except that person does a translation to IPV4 address. It is due to the fact that you have a lot of tractions that people are not working on IPV6. But they can still work together, as all I need to do is that if in my company I have a website that is IPV4 enabled then we will have website that IPV6 enabled. The true is most networks are IPV6 enabled and the two networks are separate and there are a lot of investments. In US for example for 20 years they needed $25billion to migrate to IPV6. Now, you will are seeing people saying that they want to invest in IPV6 in all networks. Most people don’t want to invest; they want to run with what they have. The same time you have in Nigeria, there are still many networks that are 3G whereas we have 4G and LTE. How many people are working on that? Many people have invested in 2G, 3G and so until they recoup their investment, they may not go to that,” he emphasized.
According to him, government is trying its best and there is a lot of awareness on the part of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) that is spearheading most of them like sponsoring the recent DigitalSense Forum that has just ended in Lagos, but as you know we tend to be the last in many good things.
Hopefully, he said our government will be able to do maybe mobilization and awareness to help people migrate to IPV6. “It will take time and that is the truth. It will take a lot of efforts, collaboration and it will take people determining to tap into the resources of IPV6 but government still have a lot to do in terms of sponsoring people and companies that want to go to IPV6.
“One of the things that the government does to encourage companies to expand their networks is from some facilities from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in form of the money given to government agencies, so while the companies are spending their money to expand their infrastructure the government also comes in to subsidy it. So if government comes with such avenue or mechanism where you can give discount in form of tax rebate to companies that invest in IPV6, then people would want to migrate to IPV6,” he stated.
Commenting on the way forward, he said that it relies on the government which drives many things including policies and cited an instance on May 18 this year in the UK, where the government of UK made it mandatory that every telecom service provider in the country will need to provide every citizen of that country with 10megabyte per second service.
“Since it is the government that came out with that policy every company has to comply. That can also drive the IPV6 in this country,” he buttressed.
When asked whether the companies will not also resist the compliance with IPV6 migration as they are doing on listing at the Nigerian Stock Exchange, he pointed out that when you want to achieve something you have to use carrot and also use stick. “You have to approach people, lobby and inquire from the stakeholders, adding that the truth of the matter is that government doesn’t have money to give to anybody.
“They can only encourage you by creating the enabling environment. So what is going to happen is that there will be tractions, and reluctance by the private organization, but government has to find a creative way of persuading them to be able to buy into IPV6,” he stated further.
When probed on how feasible it is for this IPV4 transition to end by 2020, Adedoyin declared: “What I mean is not the transition, but about the available IP addresses to Africa. It could by 2020, but it doesn’t mean that we will stop communicating. It only means that if I want to have an IPV4 address system I won’t be able to get it from a company. When it becomes serious that I need IPV6 then I don’t have a choice than to do the IPV6.”
He affirmed that Nigerians are very industrious, brilliant and determined people; all we need is to create the enabling environment.
“If you give access to Nigerian students to have broadband access to internet you will be amazed as to what they can do. People, who are jobless, idle and becoming miscreants if they can have access to internet, they can find out information, they can think, process data, come up with solutions for the economy and the country. If the government can provide enough resources I know that the youth can do more for this country.
“IPV6 gives opportunity to process information faster. You can give your equipment an IP address and you can microwave it,” he concluded.
On his part, Mr Mohammed Rudman, Chairman IPV6 Council in Nigeria, said that commercial interest is the bane as to why only four organizations out of 35 that have acquired the IPV6 are partially using it on the internet.
He stated that three Internet Service Providers (ISPs) namely MainOne, Internet Solution and IpNX Nigeria are the ones using it, while the fourth which was acquired by the Nigerian Research and Education Network (NgREN) has not been put to use for now.
He listed the challenges of IPV6 in Nigeria to include: “ ISPs need a business case- Carrier-Grade NAT (CGN) routers temporarily solving the problem; lack of technical know-how; Core, Metro and Edge equipment compatibility issues; lack of IPV6 upstream service providers and non-request from end users.”
Mohammed explained that the way forward is to create IPV6 awareness and capacity building by organizing seminar, training and incorporating IPV6 into university curriculum.