Broadband Forum clears IPv6 hurdle

New CPE specs promise to clear a key hurdle for broadband service providers offering IPv6 support to customers, but migrating to full IPv6 remains tricky for most.
The Broadband Forum industry group (formerly the DSL Forum) approved several new technical reports related to IPv6 at its annual meeting earlier this week.
“Most of it was about making our architecture specs IPv6-ready for TR-101, and the rest was looking at the nodal requirements for IPv6, and a lot of work on CPE for TR-069,” Broadband Forum chief executive Robin Mersh told Telecoms
The CPE spec – which Mersh described as “the biggest headache” of the forum’s IPv6 work – clears a major hurdle for broadband operators in implementing full IPv6 support all the way to the premises.
Until now, IPv6 support in broadband CPE has been sporadic due to lack of demand and standards for implementing IPv6 in broadband CPE devices.
The forum’s new BroadbandSuite 4.0 spec – which has been in the works for the past two years – supports IPv6 from core to user, brings IPv6 to all TR-101 network deployments and allows remote management of IPv6 devices, Mersh said.
The specs come after last month’s news that the IANA allocated the last /8 blocks of IPv4 addresses to the world’s five regional internet registries.
“That was lucky timing for us,” said Mersh. “When we started working on this a couple of years ago, we were aiming for it to come out around now. We’d love to say we timed it that way on purpose, but really it just turned out that way.”
But even with the BroadbandSuite 4.0 spec, broadband service providers still have to work out a suitable migration strategy to IPv6, which will take time. “There’s plenty of legacy CPE out there, and no carrier is going to swap that out all at once,” Mersh notes, adding that migration will inevitably vary between different markets and service providers.
“Every country is different, and every stack of v4 addresses left is different from one region to another,” Mersh explained. “What’s happening in China, for example, is being driven by a lot of new deployments, a lot of new customers coming into broadband networks, while the same thing isn’t true in the US or Europe. So from what we’re seeing, coexistence of v4 and v6 is going to happen for a long time.”
The Broadband Forum is also working on migration guidelines for broadband operators that take those different scenarios into account, Mersh said. “We’re developing a way to have flexible solutions for migration paths, because there’s still discussions around things like carrier-grade NATs [Network Address Translators], for example, in the IETF.
“Some people will go down that path. And there will also be some trading of v4 addresses as well, and other carriers will make more aggressive moves to v6.”