Though many of the biggest telecommunications companies in the world spent much of the last two years doggedly preparing for the transition to IPv6, few service providers are IPv6 ready.

Furthermore, some of the service providers who have upgraded to IPv6 are not offering IPv6 to their customers, according to Incognito Software, which just released the results of its recent “IPv6 Readiness” survey.

A migration from IPv4 to IPv6 is inevitable; the number of IPv4 addresses left unassigned is small and rapidly dwindling toward none. IPv6 creates a vast new pool of addresses, in addition to other benefits, including measures that should make networking somewhat more secure and reliable.

That said, service providers need to invest in infrastructure upgrades, and there remain issues with compatible device support, and customer education – the latter two being the biggest impediments.

Incognito Software polled 51 cable, wireless and wireline operators of varying sizes – ranging from regional players with up to 30,000 subscribers to large operators with more than one million subscribers – and included operators across North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific.

Findings of the survey include:

IPv6 adoption does not happen overnight, but most operators are optimistic about their roll-out schedules. Deployment timelines vary widely among companies, suggesting there is no “silver bullet” for adoption.

  • Nearly 34 percent of companies currently in the process of adopting IPv6 expect to complete their rollouts within a year.
  • 33 percent of companies that are currently in the process of adopting IPv6 expect to finish their adoptions within two years.

Some of the most aggressive estimates suggested that IPv4 addresses might have run out right about now. The global industry is clearly managing use of existing addresses and the remaining pool to stretch out the final deadline on the transition to IPv6 as best they can.

Executive buy-in is a key driver of IPv6. IPv6 adoption is highest among organizations where there has been an executive mandate set in place, and its success rate is directly correlated to the degree of interest shown by company management. Nearly half of organizations that are already IPv6-ready (43 percent) have acknowledged C-Level support as a primary motivator.

Dual-stack is still the preferred method of transition for most service providers. Nearly 90 percent of respondents selected this option (where IPv4 and IPv6 run parallel to each other) as their preferred method of IPv6 adoption, which is unsurprising due to the high number of IPv4-enabled devices currently available on the market.

“As service providers continue to search for ways to stretch their existing IPv4 resources, they are unearthing the reality that the industry’s increasing number of subscribers, devices and services make the need for IPv6 simply unavoidable,” said Stephane Bourque, president and CEO of Incognito Software. “Investing in a robust IP address management solution is important for operators who need to stay up-to-date on existing IP assignments and available addresses – especially for those who are using dual-stack methods to complete their deployments – so they can both attract new subscribers and anticipate potential conflicts before they cause serious issues for their existing users.”

The full report and analysis is here