THE UNITED NATION'S (UN) latest draft plan to shift the internet from IPv4 to IPv6 has been met with nothing short of fury from internet engineers.
The plan was produced by a study group within the organisation's International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and was shared with Europe's regional internet registry, RIPE, for the first time last month.
The recommendations are supposed to "ease the adoption and transition to IPv6 by end-users in developing countries and to reduce the risks of a digital divide in terms of IPv6 adoption".
However, RIPE is this week due to provide its formal comments - but there isn't a single positive thing that has been said about the plans, with everyone agreeing that the entire document should be destroyed and the plans started again from the beginning.
The whole point of the document is to act as a "reference model" to help countries in the west that are not yet on IPv6 to get them up to speed and work more efficiently. There's a focus on the "internet of things" (IoT), a movement which will require many new fresh IP addresses to properly function.
But one RIPE internet engineer said to a dedicated IPv6 working group that the plan is "utterly, utterly, broken". He added: "It has no redeeming or worthwhile qualities at all."
Others called the draft "fundamentally flawed", "ill-conceived", "awful", and "pointless to the degree of being self-destructive".
The problem that the engineers found was that the document's main proposed solution is that IPv4 addresses be mapped to IPv6 addresses, one-to-one.
"To enable mapping between and consistency between IPv4 and IPv6 subnet addressing plans, a dual strategy is proposed, with part of the IPv6 subnet addressing plan designed to map corresponding IPv4 addresses, with the possibility to extend the IPv6 subnet addressing plan and benefit from its scalability where this constraint is not required," reads the document.
While it might seem like common sense to move everything bit by bit from IPv4 to IPv6, the internet engineers, many of whom have helped build this network from the ground up, are dismayed at the prospect. One of them expressed his frustration in a blog and summarised it into five easy-to-understand points:
1. The model is inapplicable to real-world networks;
2. The model will dramatically hinder any further evolution of all IP-based networking;
3. The model carries all legacy problems from IPv4 into the IPv6 era;
4. The model precludes the application of several of the most basic security measures considered best practice by today's standards;
5. The model shortens the expected usable lifetime of IPv6 by at least 25 per cent, or 42-plus years at the current internet growth.
Basically what the ITU is proposing would not only pull over many of the problems associated with IPv4, but would also chew up valuable space making sure that the 1:1 mapping worked. In effect, it would downgrade IPv6 into IPv4+, with the plus simply being more addresses. µ
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