A statement from the Indian Government suggests that it is targeting 160 million broadband users by the year 2012 and 600 million users by 2020. And we’d like a little bit of whatever it is that they are smoking (but not too much because it’s probably too strong). Why is this absurd? Because the Indian government has so far failed to achieve its targets for broadband connections: it had expected to reach the 20 million broadband connections target by 2010, and midway through 2012, the country still has only 13.79 million broadband connections.

To reach the 160 million target by 2017, India will have to add 2.44 million broadband subscribers each month and roughly 7.33 million broadband subscribers every month to reach 600 million subscribers target by 2020, after achieving its target to reach 160 million.

IPv6 Implementation

At 0001 GMT (05:31 IST) today, the Internet protocol switched from IPv4 to IPv6, to enable more IP addresses on network. Today, on the “World IPv6 Launch Day”, major Internet Service Providers, networking equipment manufacturers and web companies around the world are coming together to permanently enable IPv6 for their products and services. Last year on June 8, major internet service providers, online portals such as Netflix, Cisco, Facebook, Yahoo and Google among others made the switch to IPv6 for their products and services demonstrated a successful implementation of IPv6 albeit just for a day.

IPv6 allows 340 undecillion (2^128) addresses compared to mere 4.30 billion IP addresses possible on IPv4. According to a statement from the Indian government, the country has 35 million IPv4 addresses, and it claims a user base of about 360 million data users (ED: this may not be true). The government wants to, for security reasons, provide unique IP address to each individual data user, which IPv4 cannot fulfill.

IPv6 Adoption

Tata Communication has already adopted the new standard. However, it appears that ISPs and web portals will not migrate completely to IPv6, because most of the IP enabled devices currently in use do not support it. 

In order to adopt IPv6 in India, Department of Telecom (DoT) introduced a policy document titled ‘National IPv6 Deployment Roadmap’ (pdf) in July 2010. For the same, an IPv6 test bed has been installed by Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC), a technical wing of DoT, to adopt explicit IPv6 harmonisation across the entire ecosystem. In order to address various problems being faced by the stakeholders regarding IP address allocation from APNIC, the National Internet Registry (NIR) has been also approved by APNIC in India for allocation of IPv6 address in a systematic manner with a big pool to cater to all future requirements and will start functioning shortly.

In a meeting with Telecom Service Providers & Content Providers and Government of India – Ministry of Communications & IT, held on 20th September 2011 (Minutes of meeting), it was said that IPv6 implementation across the major service providers and content providers will be done ahead of December 2011. However, that didn’t happen. This begs a question as to why ISP’s didn’t implement IPv6 even though the data submitted to Government of India – Ministry of Communications & IT  by BSNL, TATA, Airtel & Reliance stated that Indian networks are ready and users can get IPv6 services (reference). Moreover, as per DoT’s policy document titled ‘National IPv6 Deployment Roadmap’ all Central and State government ministries and departments, including its PSUs, were expected to start using IPv6 services by March-2012. However, we could not verify whether Central and State government have started started using IPv6 services. Major vendors seem to comply (pdf) with IPv6 service as early as January 2012.

Effect on end user

According to the government, ISPs and web portals will have to continue to support both IPv4 and IPv6 — as IPv6 is not backward compatible. Thus, ISP might have to provide a network in which the two protocols will be operating side by side. Methods like dual stack IP address and tunneling IPv6 over IPv4 are the proposed solution to the problem. The end user will not notice any changes, however, one is recommended to buy IPv6 compatible devices in future.

With inputs from Nikhil Pahwa