December 2, 2022

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Technology can't be beat

China again signals desire to shape IPv6 standards • The Register

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China’s Central Cyberspace Administration has revealed a plan for further and faster adoption of IPv6 across the nation and outlined plans to drive new developments for the protocol.

The Middle Kingdom’s updated IPv6 ambitions were detailed yesterday in an announcement of the “2022 Work Arrangement for Further Promoting the Large-scale Deployment and Application of IPv6”, which set the following goals for local IPv6 adoption by the end of 2022:

  • 700 million active IPv6 users;
  • 180 million IPv6 connections for the Internet of Things;
  • 13 per cent of fixed network traffic to use IPv6;
  • 45 per cent of mobile traffic to use IPv6;
  • 85 per cent IPv6 adoption by government and major commercial websites;
  • IPv6 to be enabled by default in all new home routers.

A ten-point plan to achieve those goals includes initiatives to encourage greater adoption of IPv6 by cloud platforms, video streamers, and in major industries such as financial services and agriculture.

That’s the sort of stuff that gets some sections of the networking community excited because IPv6 has for decades been perceived as a necessary upgrade that’s happening at bewilderingly slow speed. Others point out that carriers around the world have little incentive – or need – to change to IPv6 because the combination of network address translation (NAT) and IPv4 work well enough that they’ve delivered from the dial-up internet of the late 1990s to the mobile internet of today.

But China is all-in on IPv6 for advancement of the standard. The new plan calls for the nation to be “actively participating in the formulation of international standards for the next-generation internet,” by accelerating R&D on key technologies for IPv6 security, including “network security management, supervision and inspection.”

Those aims are broadly consistent with China’s plan to create a “New IP” that does everything internet protocol can already do but adds security and management features that Chinese carriers and Huawei suggest are worthy of inclusion in internetworking standards.

New IP was first floated in 2019, and China chose to advance it through the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) – despite that body having no role in IP development. That job is handled by the Internet Engineering Taskforce (IETF) and the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).

Trying to have the ITU adopt New IP has earned China the ire of groups including the Internet Society and the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association, both of which worry that New IP is not backwards compatible, and that asking the ITU to consider an IP standard is unhelpful duplication of work at the IEEE and IETF.

Approaching the ITU also looks a lot like an exercise in forum-shopping – the practice of working with organizations perceived to offer a higher chance of success for a cause that would likely fail in conventional channels.

The likes of Cisco, meanwhile, feel that New IP is not necessary because existing standards can deliver China’s desired technology improvements without creating a new protocol.

And also without creating the precedent of China driving a standard through the ITU – an achievement that would be celebrated in Beijing but bemoaned elsewhere. ®

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