Freed from the office, home workers roam sunlit uplands of IPv6... 2 metres apart

Clouds, silver linings etc.


The long-awaited IPv6 train may finally be pulling into the station as Google reported a spike in usage.

The Chocolate Factory has long published statistics on the adoption of IPv6 by users accessing its services and, from the ad giant's perspective at least, a heck of a lot seem to be staying at home.

The percentage of users accessing Google over IPv6 has inched up over the last year, and now tips the 30 per cent mark at weekends before dropping back down to nearer 25 per cent during the working week.

IPv6 usage

Users accessing Google over IPv6 ... One of these weeks is not like the others

Weekends or holidays tend to see more IPv6 usage as users switch away from corporate environs in favour of their own devices, often on mobile networks.

However, things have started looking a little different in the last week, which resembled Christmas 2019 – except perhaps with excited tots pleading with Santa for a stocking full of clean toilet tissue.

14 March saw a hair over 31 per cent of users accessing Google over IPv6, but rather than take the usual plummet to around 25 per cent as the week began, things were nearer 28 per cent (27.65 per cent to be exact). Usage levels then hovered around that point before climbing to the normal weekend peak on 21 March.

Register reader Richard Tobin, who tipped us off to the figures, pointed out that the numbers represented the relative usage of IPv4 and IPv6. Without the raw data, it could simply be a case that IPv6 hasn't grown at all, but IPv4 has dropped as people stay home. We've contacted Google and will update if the company is able to provide any further data.

Increased IPv6 usage is a good thing. The internet is famously running out of IPv4 addresses despite widespread IPv6 adoption by internet infrastructure companies. Traffic has continued to stubbornly cling to the world of IPv4, enabled by inertia and some neat engineering tricks.

Uncle Sam, however, tired with the prevarication, issued a kicking with a suitably hobnailed boot to faffing federal agencies earlier this month, insisting that 80 per cent of "IP-enabled assets on federal networks" must be IPv6-only by 2025.

It could be that the measures taken to deal with the spread of COVID-19 may have a positive impact on the spread of IPv6. That's assuming we don't just go back to the bad old days once this is all over. ®

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