Comcast and Internet Systems Consortium (ISC) have announced the release of open source software that will help facilitate the industry’s transition to IPv6, the global numbering system essential to the continued growth of the Internet.

The Address Family Transition Router (AFTR) software is part of a technology that could enable users to access IPv4 content from their legacy IPv4 devices & applications over an IPv6 network.

Internet Protocol (IP) addresses are numeric identifications assigned to devices, websites, computers and home gateways that let them communicate with each other on the Internet. IPv4 is the protocol being used today, but the current supply of addresses is being exhausted.

According to the American Registry of Internet Numbers (ARIN), exhaustion of the pool of IPv4 addresses will occur sometime between 2011 and 2012. IPv6 is the next-generation protocol that can connect a virtually unlimited numbers of devices.
 
However, IPv6 addresses cannot 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 solution that can be implemented by the Internet community to address this challenge. AFTR is part of the IPv6 deployment model known as Dual Stack Lite. This technology 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, SVP of software and applications for Comcast.

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

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.

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