China sets goal of running single-stack IPv6 network by 2030, orders upgrade blitz

All levels of industry and government told to get moving, consumers encouraged to buy new Wi-Fi routers


China's Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission and Cyberspace Administration have set out a plan for massive adoption of IPv6.

A Notice on Accelerating the Large-scale Deployment and Application of IPv6 posted last Friday calls for China to have 700 million active IPv6 users by 2023, plus 200 million Internet of Things devices using the protocol.

Also by 2023, home wireless routers will be required to enable and fully support IPv6 by default, with 30 per cent of the national fleet using the protocol. Other consumer devices will be required to bake in IPv6. Half of mobile traffic will use the newer protocol and 15 per cent of metropolitan area network traffic will be routed by IPv6.

By the end of 2023, new networks won't be allowed to use IPv4 – a change that signals progress in China's vision of a single IPv6 networking stack for the nation.

By 2025, the IPv6 user population will be 800 million, 400 million IoT devices will use the protocol, and 70 per cent of mobile traffic will run over IPv6. Also in 2025, government websites will be required to use IPv6, as will 20 per cent of metropolitan area network traffic. Half the national home router fleet will use the protocol.

By that time, 95 per cent of major commercial websites and mobile internet applications will be required to offer IPv6 support.

The notice suggests that another five years will be required to complete China's IPv6 rollout and achieve a "single stack" network.

The document outlines a vast array of research and industry development activities to hasten the shift to IPv6, but also requires private enterprise – especially tech operations like cloud providers and content delivery networks – to ensure their offerings run on IPv6.

China already has the infrastructure to conduct such tests. In April 2021, the nation opened a "Future Internet Test Infrastructure" comprised of 31 nodes, all connected by 200Gbps links. IPv6 testing is one of facility's main jobs.

China's IPv6 push is not new – in 2017 the nation issued an Action Plan for Promoting Large-scale Deployment of Internet Protocol Version 6 that called for adoption.

The recent notice states that "significant progress" was made under that plan, but also points out that the nation's 14th Five-Year Plan calls for building digital infrastructure.

The notice is about advancing existing plans with new details, rather than striking off in a new direction.

However, the document's commitment to a "single stack" is novel.

By the end of 2023, new networks won't be allowed to use IPv4

Akamai's State of the Internet Report asserts that 23.5 per cent of Chinese internet connections use IPv6 – an adoption rate that places it 32nd among all nations. (India's 60.3 per cent puts it way out in front of Malaysia, Japan, Germany and Belgium – the only other nations with more than 45 per cent adoption.)

The Register is aware of no other nation advocating for a single-stack IPv6 network, never mind its implementation in around nine years.

China's efforts are seen as essential to its security, and achieving other national priorities including mass 5G rollouts to support pervasive use of IoT devices, all feeding data into mighty AI engines that let the Communist Party optimise the nation's affairs. ®

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