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Feb 07, 2023
2 min

How To Transition Your Broadband Network to IPv6 the Easy Way

Any network engineer will tell you that IPv4 is the past and IPv6 is the future. Back in the earliest days of the internet, it was thought that the 4.3 billion unique IP addresses provided by the 32-bit IPv4 address protocol would be sufficient to service the internet forever. But in today’s world—where the number of internet-connected devices requiring a public IP address exceeds 8.9 billion in 2023—that number is nowhere near enough.

The exhaustion of available IPv4 addresses makes acquiring new ones a costly and complex business for broadband service providers (BSPs). They are usually available only via auction or transfer—and in increasingly smaller address ranges. At the current rate of approximately $50 to $60 per IP address, the price of a /20 block (4,096 addresses) can surpass $245,000. For a BSP buying IP addresses to support 20,000 subscribers, the cost reaches close to $1 million. Moreover, combining non-continuous IP address pools in /23 blocks (512) or smaller is creating headaches for engineers responsible for tracking, managing, and updating networks. It leaves many valuable IP addresses “stranded”—and unusable too.


Developing an IPv6 Transition Plan

The way out of this dead-end rests with IPv4’s successor, IPv6, which uses the 128-bit address format and is unlikely to be exhausted. IPv6 offers other advantages, too: It simplifies address allocations (for example, by eliminating the need for re-addressing), improves network analytics and insights, and enhances security. The transition from IPv4 to IPv6 would happen overnight in an ideal world. But, unfortunately, BSPs are required to support both protocols during a lengthy transition period, to avoid causing disruptions to subscribers.

So what is the best approach to managing, assigning, configuring, and tracking both IP protocol versions without impacting the network? The decision on which transition mechanism to use is important: It could impact investments, operational costs, and service workflows. Here’s how to frame the decision-making process:

  • Assess where you are today and what you are looking to accomplish. Are you an established BSP experiencing subscriber growth, or looking to expand into adjacent markets? Or are you a new market entrant starting from scratch?
  • Evaluate your options. Possible deployment scenarios range from “dual stack” arrangements that support IPv4 and IPv6 to a fully re-architected network designed for IPv6.
  • Prepare and execute a plan. Identify which transition scenario you will implement—and work with your trusted network partners to deliver it.
  • Monitor and optimize. IPv4 and IPv6 traffic will likely co-exist for a while. Utilize data analytics to monitor volumes and types of IPv6 traffic—and optimize your network accordingly.

Calix partners with BSPs worldwide that are expanding their network footprints or building new networks. We expertly guide them on their transition from IPv4 to IPv6 at their own pace, regardless of their current position.

Discover more about managing the transition to IPv6. Download the latest eBook, Understanding IPv6—How To Transition Into the Internet’s New Era.

Director, Access Network Product Marketing, Calix

Andre Viera is the director of access network product marketing at Calix. Andre spearheads the creation of marketing initiatives that help service providers overcome obstacles and achieve growth. Before Calix, Andre worked at Fujitsu Network Communications, Oclaro, EMC, Alcatel-Lucent, and AT&T Network Systems. Andre has an MBA from and holds MSME and BSME degrees from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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