Last year we did a report on World IPv6 Day 2011, which was the first concerted effort by network operators and content providers to ensure that their services could run over IPv6. We also wanted to raise awareness that IPv6 could be used for everyday activities. At the time, the results were slightly disappointing, with less than 1 percent of traffic active on the network on the day using IPv6 for transport. However, it did start a more regular use of IPv6. For example, below are two reports from a single large broadband provider in the US – the first taken during World IPv6 Day, and the second taken over the first part of 2012.
Traffic volume for IPv6 has increased from ~50Mbps to seeing spikes of up to 500Mbps – a 10x increase. Studies also showed that leading up to World IPv6 Day 2011, over 95 percent of IPv6 traffic on networks was file sharing, with the remainder normal web browsing activity and streaming to sites like YouTube or Facebook.
The growth in “normal” IPv6 traffic started to ramp in April, with more users taking advantage of native IPv6 services being offered by this operator, as well as the content providers, most notably YouTube, as shown below, but with Facebook and Amazon making an appearance.
Interestingly enough, Facebook had a highly publicized outage last week, but the IPv6 version of Facebook was NOT affected (first image is IPv4, second is IPv6), and actually increased in usage during the outage as sophisticated users attempted to connect using different methods. This was from the same operator as the above report.
Taking a snapshot from a different consumer broadband network, almost all of the web browsing traffic using IPv6 is from Macs (the top User Agent is MacOS Firefox), demonstrating that Apple has had more success in driving IPv6 into their products over Microsoft-based operating systems, even on the mobile side (iPod and iPhone):
We will be watching to see if we see another spike in IPv6, but it is good to see that IPv6 has taken a tentative hold and is even being used by power users during times when IPv4 sites are experiencing difficulties. Could this be the year that IPv6 stays up for good? The expanded addressing capacity of IPv6 will enable billions of new Internet addresses needed to support connectivity for a huge range of smart devices such as phones, household appliances, connected devices etc. The Internet will be vastly enhanced if IPv6 can achieve widespread adoption.