Canada’s slow IPv6 adoption reflects our lagging leadership in digital media innovation

Canada is a world leader in terms of broadband Internet usage and consumption of digital media communications tools like Search, Social Networking andCanadian flag Video. Web research firm comScore was quoted in a recent Globe and Mail article as saying that “Canadians spend 43.5 hours a month online – almost twice the world average of 23.1 hours.” However, when it comes to resolving Internet technology issues like the impending IP address shortage, we are currently sitting in the middle of the pack.

A recent article from TheRecord.com discussed the fact that Canadian ISPs have been slow to collaborate and adopt IPv6 as a resolution for the coming IP address shortage. I spoke with a few industry leaders in this space to find out more about this issue and what it means for the perception of Canada on the global Internet stage.

Hélène Joncas, Chief Strategy Officer at CANARIE, told me that “there just doesn’t seem to be the same sense of urgency in Canada that there has been in other countries to implement IPv6.” The implications for Canada are that if other countries upgrade their IP networks and protocols sooner, we run the risk of Canadian systems not functioning properly with networks and protocols in other jurisdictions. Joncas likened the situation to the “rest of the world developing a new dialing system for their phones while Canada’s phones are still on the old dialing system.”

However, Joncas said that many Canadian businesses and government funded organizations have actually already been slowly adopting IPv6. So, we may not be as far behind as TheRecord.com article suggests. Canarie, for example, is now IPv6 enabled and is working with their Optical Regional Advanced Network partners (ORANs) like Orion and BCNET to get them IPv6 enabled as well. Joncas and other members of CANARIE will discuss the issue further at the Canada 3.0 Conference (www.canada30.ca) on May 2nd to 4th in Stratford, Ontario. Members of the federal and provincial governments will also be on hand to speak about the work that is underway.

Marc Blanchet, President at Viagénie – a consulting company that is working with Canadian ISPs to help them deploy IPv6, is vice-chair of the Canadian ISACC IPv6 task group that was put in place by the Canadian government to resolve the coming IP address shortage. He told me to rest assured that “the government and ISPs are working hard to resolve the issue.”

Blanchet said that big players like the Canadian Internet Registry Authority (CIRA) have already done a lot of work to ensure that domain name owners can get new names over IPv6 already. He explained that “Canada may not have been the pioneers of IPv6 adoption, but we were certainly not the late comers – we’re somewhere in the middle.” Blanchet shared a link to a publicly available report which outlines the awareness of the issue by major Government organizations, industry players and ISPs and their commitment to be completely IPv6 enabled.

He explained that of course ISPs do not want to publicly share all of the information about the IP address shortage solution with the public yet. There is a lot at stake from a competition perspective. However, Canadian ISPs are, in fact, collaborating and now have incentive to resolve the issue. The challenge was that Canadian ISPs were not previously pressed to resolve the issue because there was no financial benefit in doing so.

So, perhaps there may not be as much of a looming “IPocalypse” in Canada as many reporters have chosen to label the situation. However, one might compare this current issue to Canada’s performance at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. Once Canada decided to attempt to “own the podium” and invest in the success of our athletes, we kicked some serious butt and won more gold medals than any other host nation had ever won in the past.

Similarly, as soon as there was incentive to adopt IPv6, Canadian ISPs have jumped on the bandwagon and have made a commitment to fix the problem before it becomes an issue for our economy.

Other countries like Japan incentivized their businesses and ISPs to resolve the issue a lot sooner. Therefore, according to Hélène Joncas, Japan is already 21% IPv6 enabled. She also implied that this is perhaps due to the fact that they may be running out of IP addresses at a much faster rate than in Canada.

Regardless of whether Canada may not be running out of IP addresses as quickly as other countries, we still need to ensure that our networks and protocols work with other countries’ systems. Likewise, we are missing the opportunity to position ourselves as global leaders in technology and digital media innovation. If the Canadian government pressed harder to become a global leader and invested even more in Canadian businesses to “own the technology and digital media innovation podium” then who knows what might be possible?

We’re already leaders in digital media usage. Why not lead in innovation as well?

Image source: iStockPhoto.com

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4 thoughts on “Canada’s slow IPv6 adoption reflects our lagging leadership in digital media innovation

  1. mike tancsa

    Hi, I would not place much stock in the record article. The author called a few providers, some got back to him, some didnt… You cant really conclude from that how IPV6 is being adopted in Canada….If you want a simple metric, see http://www.torix.net/peers.php for a list of Canadian ISPs *currently* doing IPv6.

    Reply

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