Comsave Core University - Part 3: IPv6

Posted on Friday, May 18, 2018

IPv6, the ‘new’ Internet

Have a look at the following: 2a01:bb60:10:1:0:0:0:2 or 2a01:bb60:10:1:0:0:0:1. A lot of our partners would recognize this as a MAC-address. Others would see it as some sort of code language. Although that’s understandable, it’s not correct. These are actually two loopback addresses from Comsave Core routers. Although the MAC address could be processed in the IPv6 address, it’s not the case here. Comsave has been IPv6 ready since its first PoP. Because a lot of our customers aren’t relying on this protocol, we decided to dedicate a blog to the subject.

In order to communicate on the internet, arrangements had to be made. In 1981, the internetprotocol version 4 ‘IPv4’ was developed. In the protocol it’s stated that an IP address should be 32-bits long, so a maximum of 4.294.967.296 devices could get an IPv4 address.

Because the number of devices has exploded over the years thanks to smartphones, laptops and the internet of things, the demand for IP-addresses continues to increase every day. In 2012, the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) created the last block of 65.536 IPv4 addresses. In the meantime, the RIPE (Réseaux IP Européens) also created their last block, which is running out of availability. When that happens, no ‘new’ IPv4 addresses can be created anymore and only exchanging IPv4 addresses between ISP’s will be possible. This doesn’t come risk-free, which is all the reason to have a second thought about IPv6.

An important difference between IPv4 (32 bits, 4 x 109 addresses) and IPv6 (128 bits, 3.4 x 1038 addresses) is the length of the network address. The 128-bits addresses which are used in IPv6 generate so many possible addresses, scrimping is no longer needed. To give you an idea: for every person on earth there would be 50.000 quadrillion addresses available. Every grain in the desert could have its own IPv6-address!

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Compatibility & implementation IPv6

Unfortunately, IPv4 and IPv6 protocols cannot communicate with each other directly. To be able to use IPv6 addresses, networks, services and products should be made ‘IPv6-compatible’. IPv6 devices would actually need an IPv4-address to be able to communicate with ‘the old Internet’. You could say there’s not one internet, but we have two now. Implementing IPv6 unfortunately is not going at the speed a lot of people, including ourselves, would like to see it happening. Because IPv4 addresses in fact ran out in 2012 and now the very last addresses are being used now, ISP’s and hosting companies are now working hard to roll out IPv6.

Converting from IPv4 to IPv6 is not something which should happen over one night. Both protocols exist parallel to each other right now and that will not change tomorrow, over one month or years even. By using a range of techniques and services, IPv4 and IPv6 will be able to keep communicating to each other in the future. Thanks to DNS, an IPv6 address could be retrieved while the DNS server is running on IPv4.

Comsave & IPv6 Dualstack

To get a public IPv6 address through Comsave, we set up a PPPoE session with one of our core concentrators. In this PPPoE session, a standard IPv4 address is offered which can be found in the delivery documentation.

Demand for IPv6 increases amongst our end-customers and partners, which is a good thing. Since our core maintenance that was done in Q1 2018, we made it a lot easier to deliver IPv6 addresses to clients.

By raising a ticket through, it’s possible to request an /56 block at any time for any random connection. As a partner or end-customer you’re able to divide the /56 block in 256 times a /64 block, comparable to /24; 18,4465,744,073,709,551,616 IPv6 addresses-blocks.

For special projects, it’s possible to extend this to a bigger block (/48) which can be divided into 256 times a /56 block. These addresses are then put in the current PPPoE session. After we’ve closed the ticket, the end-customer or the partner is just one step away from reconnecting the PPP session in order to be able to use the extra block.

Why make the change to IPv6?

1. It is inevitable. IPv6 will soon be the only option;

2. It is faster. IPv6 accelerates the data supply because the headers are more efficient;

3. No more NAT (very beneficial for the use of VoIP). IPv6 doesn’t know the NAT protocol, which makes devices able to communicate directly without the translation of a Private IP address to a public IP address;

4. Security. During the development of IPv4, hardly any thought was given to the security of this protocol. At IPv6, IPSeC is included in the headers as standard and there are a number of other security features that this 'new' protocol entails.

What do you have to take into account?

- Security/Firewalling;

- The SPF record for sending mail to end users;

- DNS records;

- Redundancy (through BGP, see our previous blog). An IPv6 address can also be offered redundantly on the Comsave core;

- IPv6 number plan: Remembering IP addresses is a thing of the past

Questions about the "New Internet"? Please contact one of our engineers via 088 999 5555 or This blog was written by our Comsave core engineers Marijn Van Gool and David Den Heijer

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