AFRICA is now in crisis mode with regards to IPv6 takeover, according to speakers at AfriNIC's public policy meeting.
SA also does not have policies in place for the switchover, according to deputy communications minister Obed Bapela. He says this still needs to be addressed, along with the regulatory environment.
Adiel Akplogan, CEO of Internet numbers registry for Africa, AfriNIC, says there is no fixed day when IPv4 addresses will run out but the exhaustion date for the AfriNIC region is projected to be April 2014.
The two protocols will work together and there are many mechanisms that allow a smooth coexistence, says Akplogan. Slowly, however, IPv6 will take precedence over IPv4 to become, at some point, the default.
"This takeover is important because you cannot connect to the Internet if you do not agree with your peer. It is important to note that the Internet works on a point-to-point peering agreement."
He says Africa should be assessing both software and hardware infrastructure to ensure IPv6 compatibility, and emphasis should be placed on engineering skills and education for the new protocol.Hisham Ibrahim, IPv6 programme manager at AfriNIC, says that at this point in the game it's not called early adoption anymore. "It's just adoption now."
Andrew Alston, CTO of Tenet, goes even further to say it's not even adoption now. "We're in crisis mode. We think it's all fine now and it will work itself out, until customers start calling and saying they can't access something."
Graham Beneke, a speaker at the meeting, says sites like Google, Facebook, Yahoo and YouTube are all already IPv6-ready and users won't be able to access those sites if the switchover doesn't happen in time.
However, ICASA councillor William Stucke says, while attention to the change to IPv6 is urgent, there is no doomsday scenario, provided interoperability between IPv4 and IPv6 is working well, and access networks still have sufficient IPv4 addresses available for growth in the immediate future.
Akplogan adds that the longer IPv6 preparation takes, the greater the costs could be.
"There is an economical incentive and need for us to be deploying IPv6 right now. It's so that our infrastructure is compatible."
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