When will we turn off IPv4?

So when do we turn the lights off on IPv4? We put this question to the gogoNET community and the answer may surprise you. In case you're not aware, gogoNET comprises 90,000 networking professionals who are in the process of migrating their networks, services or products to IPv6. Since they're the ones doing the work they provide a unique perspective of when the Internet will be v6 only.

We asked "When do you estimate you will turn IPv4 OFF in your network, service or application?" and provided five possible answers:

  • In less than 3 years (2013 - 2016)
  • In 3 - 5 years (2016 - 2018)
  • In 5 - 10 years (2018 - 2023)
  • In 10 - 15 years (2023 - 2028)
  • In more than 15 years (2028 - ?)

We received 1,479 responses over three weeks (more than 80% answered the first day) working out to around a 1.7% response rate. By performing geolocation on the poll takers' IP addresses we were able to segment the results by Regional Internet Registry (RIR) geographies.

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Compared to the demographics of our membership (shown in unfilled bars), APNIC and AFRINIC were under represented and RIPE was over represented.

The result of the poll traces out a bell curve with the mean (top of the curve) and the most votes at, "In 5 - 10 years" with a standard deviation weighted to the right or longer than five to 10 years.

Although slightly more members expect to turn IPv4 off after 10 years than before five years it is the front end of the curve that surprised me with 15% of the respondents saying they will turn IPv4 off in less than three years!  Remember, we are not talking about moving to dual-stack but completely turning IPv4 off.

Plotting the data cumulatively provides an informative look at the growth of the IPv6-only Internet.

Our poll suggests that in five years approximately 50% of the Internet will be IPv6 only and in 10 years this percentage rises to 75%! Because 18% said it would take over 15 years to reach a 100% IPv6 Internet, the last point (plotted at 30 years) will likely be further out with the last segment approaching 100% logarithmically.

Segmenting the results by RIR shows the IPv6-only Internet will grow differently around the world. After eliminating the results from AFRINIC due to too low a sample size we see a few interesting geographic differences.

The APNIC region will lead the charge in the first three years by turning IPv4 off in 23% of its networks.  The greatest change in the LACNIC Internet will occur in five to 10 years with 41% of its networks changing over and the ARIN region will take the longest with 20% of its networks still running IPv4 in 15 years.

Overall the IPv6-only Internet will grow fastest in the LACNIC and APNIC regions followed by the RIPE and then the ARIN region.

Of course it's difficult to predict anything beyond five to 10 years let alone a technological change as big as this but the summation of the individual responses provides an accurate pulse of those charged with doing the work to transition the Internet to IPv6.

Sinclair has been a part of the IPv6 market since 2006 and is CEO of gogo6, a provider of IPv6 products, community and services. Original market insights for his blogs are gathered from the gogoNET social network that has more than 90,000 registered members who use the community as a resource to transition to IPv6.

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