Comcast has announced a plan to conduct real, production-network trials of IPv6 technology this year. The MSO is encouraging customers to sign up now to volunteer to participate in one of the trials.

The transition from IPv4 addresses to IPv6 addresses is a necessity, as the available pool of IPv4 addresses will at some point be exhausted for all Internet users. These trials will help Comcast to identify and solve any areas of difficulty involved in the transition to IPv6, and to determine what approach will be the easiest and most seamless for customers.

Comcast will continue to share what it learns with the Internet community, particularly with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), for the benefit of other users of the Internet.

2Q2010:
Trial #1 will evaluate tunneling IPv6 over IPv4, using "6RD" technology. 6RD is an open Internet standard developed in the IETF’s Softwire’s working group. This trial enables Comcast to explore how it may be able to provide production level IPv6 service to customers who have only been issued IPv4 addresses by the ISP network.

Trial #2 will evaluate a native Dual-Stack IPv6 deployment. Comcast will test issuing both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to the customer premise. This trial will attempt to suit a variety of customer premise configurations, and will evolve over time as the customer premise equipment (CPE) support for IPv6 matures. Native, dual-stack is central to the company’s IPv6 strategy and it expects that the native dual-stack solution will be a significant part of the IPv6 transition, enabling IPv6 technology to evolve globally while still being able to provide seamless services to the traditional IPv4 Internet.

3Q2010:
Trial #3 will evaluate tunneling IPv4 over IPv6, using "Dual-Stack Lite" technology (aka DS-Lite). DS-Lite is an open standard defined in the IETF’s Softwire’s working group. DS-Lite will involve provisioning only an IPv6 address at the customer premise, and creating a IPv4 over IPv6 tunnel between the customer’s home gateway and an Address Family Transition Router (AFTR) in Comcast’s network. That AFTR enables sharing IPv4 addresses among DS-Lite IPv6 customers.

DS-Lite can be seen as the mirror image of 6RD; 6RD enables IPv6 service to IPv4 customers, whereas DS-Lite enables IPv4 service to IPv6 customers. DS-Lite offers the ability to continue an IPv4 service when IPv4 addresses are no longer readily available or are otherwise constrained.

Trial #4 will evaluate how to deploy IPv6 to Comcast’s Business Class customers, on a native Dual-Stack IPv6 basis.

Comcast said that all dates are tentative and subject to change. Also, trial dates have been set conservatively, which means that some trials may begin earlier than indicated. The company has set up a website for information about its IPv6 work at http://www.comcast6.net/.

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