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Why has IPv6 Capability Plummeted in Some Networks

Picture of Robbie Mitchell
Senior Communication and Technology Advisor, Internet Society
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September 6, 2023

We often report on the Pulse Blog how IPv6 adoption is growing globally as more networks seek to expand to accommodate the growing number of connected devices. But a handful of recent instances of IPv6 adoption significantly falling have caught our attention that we thought were worth clarifying.

Read: Four of the World’s Top 10 Populous Countries Driving IPv6 Adoption

The first of these have happened in the United Kingdom, where the IPv6 capability of Everything Everywhere, more commonly known as EE (AS12576), has dropped from 45% to 0% in the past 12 months.

Figure 1 — IPv6 capability of AS12576. Source

As one of the top five Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the UK, the impact of such a drastic drop should show up in the nation’s IPv6 capability. However, the opposite has occurred. Since August 2022, when we notice EE’s IPv6 capability dropping significantly, the IPv6 capability for the UK has increased by 7%.

Figure 2 — IPv6 capability for the United Kindom. Source

While there have been some smaller ISPs that have deployed IPv6 during this time, the two largest ISPs—BT (AS2856) and Sky (AS5607)—have slightly increased their capabilities. It’s within these slight increases, and through some industry insight, that we’ve learned that BT, which is a parent company of EE, is now routing EE traffic through AS2856 instead of AS12576. This explains why EE IPv6 capability has dropped to zero.

The next case, which has been a more prolonged fall, is that of Google Fiber (AS16591).

Figure 3 — IPv6 capability for AS16591. Source

This is curious, given that Google has been a major advocate for IPv6 for more than a decade.

Recently, someone posted this on Reddit, and among the answers for this anomaly was that Google WiFi routers don’t have IPv6 enabled by default. This is true of many routers, and we encourage you all to check your router’s configuration settings and turn it on if it is an option and if your ISP provides IPv6.

Like most significant protocols, IPv6 uptake has been slow but steady. With more networks progressing from a testing phase to full deployment, we expect to see more than half of the world’s devices connecting via IPv6 in the near future.

Photo by Kamil Pietrzak on Unsplash