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Deploy360 21 February 2017

The Business Case for IPv6 in Pakistan

Aftab Siddiqui
By Aftab SiddiquiTechnical Engagement Manager for Asia-Pacific

We had a very successful ION conference in Islamabad on 25 January 2017, and amongst the interesting topics presented at the conference, it’s worth highlighting the statistics on IPv4 and IPv6 allocation in Pakistan. Let me share those in detail here.

As per the APNIC resource delegation data (as of 1 January 2017). There are 5,314,816 IPv4 address allocated to ISPs and enterprises in Pakistan. However, if you look at the graph then it shows PTCL as the holder of nearly 73% IPv4 addresses in Pakistan, leaving the remaining 27% to the rest of the ISPs and enterprises. PTCL is undoubtedly the biggest broadband provider in Pakistan and also provides services to Ufone (telco operator), so you’d expect them to have the largest user base for both wired and mobile broadband services.

The main concern though, is that it’s now only possible to obtain a /22 IPv4 prefix from APNIC (as per the last /8 policy), and those will soon be exhausted. This means that if ISPs need more IPv4 address, the only option will be to buy them open market. The current going rate for IPv4 addresses is around USD 10 for each address  in a /18 block, plus the APNIC transfer fees, which amounts to nearly USD 164K for 16,384 IPv4 addresses.

The other option is deploying Carrier Grade NAT (CGN) to put many users behind a single IPv4 address.In theory, it’s safe to consider that each user may have around 250 concurrent sessions, so with around 65,000 sessions available per IP address, it’s possible to put 250 users behind a single IPv4 address with CGN. The downside though, are that you need powerful boxes to manage that many sessions and it is difficult to guarantee performance.

There’s another graph showing IPv6 delegations in Pakistan, with a very uniform address allocation to all existing APNIC members (with few negligible exceptions). No single entity has an edge over another, and it doesn’t cost anything extra (if you already hold IPv4 addresses) to obtain IPv6 addresses from APNIC. There’s no need to install complex and difficult to manage CGN solutions, nor buy expensive IPv4 addresses from the open market. It’s an open and level playing field for all operators wanting to serve the 200 million plus population of Pakistan.

For many years there was a big debate in Pakistan about the financial benefit of deploying IPv6, but these statistics clearly illustrate the business case for doing it. You can either deploy IPv6 at minimal cost by upgrading some old hardware (very rare), or deploy CGN and buy IPv4 from open market at significant expense. The choice is yours!

Deploy360 aims to help you deploy IPv6, so please take a look at our Start Here page to understand how you can get started with IPv6.

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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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