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world ipv6 launch logoIf you've been working on IPv6 for awhile, 2012 should have given you encouragement that IPv6 is starting to have enough significant deployment in enough places that it is really finally happening. In 2012, we witnessed access networks around the world turn up IPv6 for regular end users and saw major websites turn up IPv6 permanently. This combination increased the flow of IPv6 throughout the Internet.

At the start of 2012, many networks around the world carried IPv6 traffic, enabling access networks and websites who turned up IPv6 to be connected. However the number of major websites that had permanently enabled IPv6 remained small. None of the Top 100 websites (according to the Alexa rankings) had enabled IPv6 on their main webpages, but YouTube had enabled its content caches since World IPv6 Day in 2011. Among access networks around the world at the start of 2012, Free in France and KDDI in Japan had enabled IPv6 for their users but there was not much else available to the ordinary end user of the Internet.

By the end of 2012, how this picture has changed! Today, ten percent of the Alexa Top 1000 websites are now enabled with IPv6 and large access networks have enabled IPv6 for their end users, according to measurements we made for World IPv6 Launch.

Five of the six most-visited websites – Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo!, and Wikipedia – all serve IPv6 from their main websites today. In addition, content distribution networks like Limelight and Akamai are providing services to their customers to enable IPv6 hosted content, and hosting companies are making it possible for hosted websites to use IPv6 as well. The three largest web-hosting companies in Germany serve IPv6 for all their hosted websites.

Also at the end of 2012, there were significant deployments in access networks. AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and Comcast in North America, RCS&RDS in Romania, CTC and Softbank in Japan, XS4ALL in the Netherlands, Swisscom in Switzerland, DT in Germany, and Internode in Australia all began enabling IPv6 for their end users, all without the end users needing to configure anything in their networks, and in fact, probably, most not even knowing they are using IPv6.

All of this results in more IPv6 traffic on the Internet and this shows up in publicly available measurements of IPv6 traffic on the Internet. Google has been measuring and reporting the percentage of users that access Google using IPv6 for the last few years. Clearly the trend is both positive and very encouraging, with consistently more than 1% of Internet users accessing Google using IPv6. You can see their measurements here. The European Internet exchanges AMS-IX and DE-CIX both report increases in IPv6 traffic passing through their exchanges although the overall percentages remain low.

After World IPv6 Launch in June, we were able to report on some aggregate measurements taken by Google, Facebook, and Yahoo! of traffic from individual networks that offer IPv6 to their end users. You can read about that here. We hope to continue taking those measurements throughout 2013. If you are an ISP that is enabling IPv6 for your end users, sign up as a network here and we will add you to the list of networks that are measured.

More work remains to be done. It would be really great to see mobile networks in addition to Verizon Wireless in the United States enable IPv6 for mobile terminals on their networks. There is still quite a long tail of web content that needs to become available over IPv6. The major websites and many others have demonstrated that this is very doable.

With such significant IPv6 traffic growth last year, when do you think we will see it become a majority of traffic on the Internet? What is your prediction for when Google will see over half of its traffic over IPv6? What can we do next to help speed these numbers along? Talk to us in the comments! (And if you're looking to get started deploying IPv6 on your own networks, check out the Internet Society Deploy360 Programme for help.)

Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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