Comcast and Internet Systems Consortium (ISC) have released open source software that will help grease the transition from IPv4 addresses to the much-needed IPv6 addresses.

The Address Family Transition Router (AFTR) software is one ingredient of a technology that was designed to give users access to IPv4 content from their legacy IPv4 devices and applications over an IPv6 network.

Among cable operators, Comcast has been the most active in working on IPv6. The nation’s largest cable operator and ISP has numerous devices that need IP addresses, but IPv4 addresses are close to running out.

According to the American Registry of Internet Numbers (ARIN), the blocks of IPv4 addresses will run out sometime between 2011 and 2012. IPv6 is the next-generation protocol that can connect a virtually unlimited numbers of devices.

The problem is that IPv6 addresses can’t communicate with IPv4 addresses, so a variety of transition technologies are being developed to ensure continued access to the Internet during the migration to IPv6. The AFTR software is one option that can be implemented by the Internet community to address this problem.

AFTR is part of the IPv6 deployment model known as Dual Stack Lite, which is currently being standardized by the IETF.

“Comcast's core network and back office infrastructure already supports IPv6 today, but the industry’s transition to IPv6 will require widespread access to key technologies like AFTR,” said Richard Woundy, senior vice president of software and applications for Comcast. “We’re pleased to be working with ISC to provide open source technologies that could benefit the entire Internet community.”

AFTR is the culmination of almost five years of IPv6 research and development by Comcast and ISC, and it was designed to aid in the deployment of IPv6 on broadband networks. The complete version of the AFTR version 1.01 software can be downloaded free of charge.

In addition to the release of the software, the newly created AFTR Software Forum provides the means for direct interaction between the users and developers of the software. Basic membership in the AFTR Software Forum is free. More information on Dual Stack Lite is available.

More Broadband Direct 3/19/10:
•  Comcast debuts open source software for IPv6 transition
•  Cablevision jumps aboard 3-D Express
•  BroadBand Connections adds ads to customer service 
•  T-Mobile may throw in with Clearwire and/or cable
•  FCC seeks comment on rules for TV-cable talks
•  SIP Forum, IPv6 form partnership to promote interoperability
•  Revised cyber security bill introduced 
•  MobiTV debuts cross-platform, multi-screen DRM offering
•  Cox launches Facebook page in Hampton Roads
•  WICT hires communications director
•  Viacom, YouTube air dirty laundry in legal battle