A few months ago, I wrote about how IPv6 use is exploding.
Six months ago, I wrote that according to Google 6% of their customers access Google via IPv6. In the US this figure was more than 14%. I recently looked at this data again and the trend continues. Globally the figure is up to not quite 9 percent (8.91%). In the US, the figure is more than 21% (21.54%). Essentially IPv6 use is doubling every year.
So why is IPv6 traffic growing so fast, when until a few years ago, there was very little IPv6 traffic? First- almost all endpoint devices are now IPv6 enabled and many of them prefer IPv6 to IPv4. Second- there is IPv6 consumable content. While on a percentage bases, IPv6 reachable websites is low (Alexa reports 160 of the Top 1000 websites are currently reachable over IPv6), the most important websites from a traffic perspective are reachable over IPv6. Of the top 5 websites in the US, 4 are reachable via IPv6. Third, many networks are IPv6 enabled and many network operators are starting to enable IPv6.
A few weeks ago, Steve Kohalmi wrote about something we call Client Visibility for Content Providers (CVfCP). Important content providers prefer that their customers use IPv6 because of the increased end to end visibility it gives them. The result is the IPv6 experience is superior to the IPv4 experience. Paul Saab, from Facebook, recently said, “If you are not doing IPv6 today you’re probably negatively impacting your users.” Facebook has measured their user’s experience and found that their users experienced 15% faster performance when using IPv6 versus IPv4. In some ways, IPv4 is becoming a second class citizen of the internet.
So if IPv6 provides users a better experience and there is an appreciable amount of IPv6 traffic and the traffic is doubling every year, when will IPv6 be the dominant IP protocol on the internet? I don’t know, but I do think it will happen on a weekend.
Why a weekend? If you look at the data that Google publishes, it is saw toothed. The percentage of IPv6 goes up on the weekend and down Monday through Friday. Both are clearly growing over time, but the weekend penetration is higher. This confirms that more residential and wireless networks are IPv6 enabled than corporate enterprise networks.
What are some other signs that will show that IPv6 has transformed from a credible presence to a dominant presence? IPv6, today, is hit or miss globally. Penetration is high in some countries and quite low in others. For example, compare the difference between the US- 21.54% and the UK- 2.78%. For IPv6 to become dominant, IPv6 penetration will need to increase in the laggard countries. This is already starting to happen with BT’s recent trials. The other thing that must happen is there must be more IPv6 accessible content. I mentioned that 160 of the Alexa Top 1000 websites are currently reachable over IPv6. When this starts to grow, we will know that IPv6 is becoming more ubiquitous. If you want to track this, try the World IPv6 Launch Measurements page.