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China showing signs of brewing IPv6 eruption

China Telecom, world’s largest carrier, and China’s premier ISP, has accelerated - hard

APNIC, the Asia-Pacific’s regional Internet address registry, has noticed a sharp uptick in IPv6 use by China Telecom, the nation’s top provider of internet services.

While rivals China Unicom and China Mobile dominate mobile internet connections, more than 150 million subscribers rely on China Telecom for wireline services and the company operates extensive national and metropolitan networks that its mobile-centric rivals depend on. China Telecom is therefore a critical player.

APNIC notes that in 2017, when China announced its “Action Plan for Promoting the Large-scale Deployment of Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6),” the nation’s IPv6 adoption was solidly in low single figures.

But starting in 2018, IPv6 adoption started to rise. Sharply.

APNIC Labs’ analysis of those efforts suggest that in late 2020 China Telecom’s metro network in Shanghai had become 13.59 per cent IPv6 capable, while in other cities similar spikes can be observed. Other carriers have achieved higher IPv6 adoption rates.

APNIC opines that the jump in IPv6 capability suggests wider deployments are likely, as islands of IPv6 are unhelpful.

China plans very widespread deployment of 5G, widespread deployment of internet of things technology to enable, and this week authorised tests of self-driving cars on public roads. All of which will create a need for lots of IP addresses.

Network Address Translation is now sufficiently mature that the small number of available IPv4 addresses is no longer a limiting factor, but IPv6’s vast scale may enable China to realise its connected ambitions as well as setting off complications. ®

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