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Firms implement NAT to avoid IPv6 migration

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Sunday Folayan, President NiRA

Sunday Folayan, President NiRA

Fear of internet protocol version four (IPv4) shortages has pushed some organisations in the country to creating and adopting several new technologies, including network address translation (NAT) method to remain visible online.

IPv6, the successor technology to IPv4 which was designed to address this problem, supports approximately 3.4×1038 network addresses, however, investigations show quick-fixes by adopting NAT which is a method of “remapping one IP address space into another by modifying network address information in Internet Protocol (IP) datagram packet headers while they are in transit across a traffic routing device”.

Records in the domain/IP address industry show that Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) was the first Regional Internet Registry (RIR) to run out of freely allocated IPv4 addresses on April 15, 2011.

Sunday Folayan, president of the Nigeria internet Registration Association (NiRA), said that “ this date marked the point where not everyone who needed and IPv4 address could be allocated one. As a consequence of this exhaustion, end-to-end connectivity as required by specific applications will not be universally available on the internet until IPv6 is fully implemented”.

According to him, IPv6 will open a pool of internet addresses that is a billion-trillion times larger than a total pool of IPv4 addresses which is about 4.3billion, “this means that the number of IPv6 addresses is virtually inexhaustible for the foreseeable future. This will address the need of the ever expanding world population, the growth of the domain name system due to the opening of the new gTLDs and the immerging internet of things (IoTs)”.

But, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek gathered that for their inability to muster technically competent staff and the knowledge of IPv6, organisations are seeking more ways to avoid the IPv6 route for now.

“The technical staffs of various network providers and universities are faced with the technical skills challenge, Muhammed Rudman, vice president of NiRA affirmed, adding that due to the obvious factor militating against Nigeria’s migration to IPv6, the Association in partnership with ATCON and University of Ibadan (UI) decided to organise training for network engineers.

Rudman affirmed, “Organisations seem not to understand the business case of IPv6. For instance, most of the people who attain trainings are the technical staff while the decision-making or those at the top echelon still doubt why they need to IPv6. We are also pushing for them to appreciate the need for IPv6. Thirdly, they are already consuming IPv4. They are using network address translation (NAT) which is like sharing private IP address. Most Nigerian networks are used to that, hence they do not want to change. Usually, people restrict change, especially when the new thinking apparently challenges their old practices”.

It was also gathered that out of the five regional internet registries, African Network Information Center (AFRNIC) has a lot of IPv4 addresses; so, some chief executives query why they should migrate to IPv6 when the region has enough IPv4 resources.

But, Rudman said, “they should know that, in reality, the world is moving and leaving us behind when it comes to IPv6 and the core knowledge”.

He also called for regulatory intervened by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) especially in making sure end-user devices and even government networks are all IPv6 compliant.

“That was how .ng domain name registration was propagated. The government decided to adopt .ng across board. Now you see individuals trying to adopt it. NCC intervention may imply providing tax incentive for networks willing to adopt devices and Customers Premise Equipment (CPEs), because at the moment some of the devices are not IPv6 compliance,” Rudman said.


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