Comcast On Pace To Complete IPv6 Network Rollout By Early 2014

Comcast has deployed native IPv6 support to more than 75% of its broadband network, making it the world’s largest, and said it is now on pace to complete the job by early 2014, according to a blog post updating the MSO's v6 efforts.

That milestone and what’s expected by early next year comes about eight years after the operator started to prepare for IPv6 and about four years after Comcast started its customer-facing trials and deployments. “The rubber really started to hit the road in late 2009 and early 2010,” John Brzozowski, Comcast fellow and the cable operator’s chief IPv6 architect, told Multichannel News.

Comcast's claims to the IPv6 network deployment crown are backed up by the Internet Society, which recently released a report outlining, based on its measurements, that Comcast’s IPv6 deployment had grown from less than 2% on World IPv6 Launch Day in 2012 to more than 16% in November 2013. Among U.S.-based operators, Time Warner Cable has also made progress (3.37%), good for eight place on the Internet Society's v6 leader board, while Liberty Global was tenth (2.24%). The Internet Society measures v6 deployment using several sources, including traffic data from Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and Akamai.

Comcast’s deployment pace puts it in a good spot as the last block of IPv4 addresses for the region continues to melt down. In May, the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), which manages Internet number resources for the U.S., Canada, and many Caribbean and North Atlantic islands, told Multichannel News (subscription required) that the burn rate for v4 addresses was accelerating, confirming that full depletion could occur before the end of 2013.

As Brzozowski noted in the blog post, Comcast’s v6 deployment has growth from third to first in just over three months, meaning the operator has leapfrogged past AT&T and KDDI of Japan.

Brzozowski said the pace of growth has been spurred on by the launch of IPv6 support for two  Arris-made Touchstone Telephony Wireless Gateway Modem models – the TG852G and the TG862G – that brought the new Internet addressing scheme to more than 4 million customers.

Out on the network, Comcast completed IPv6 rollouts on Arris cable modem termination systems (CMTSs) over a year ago, and is now spooling up v6 support on its base of Cisco Systems uBR1000 CMTSs.

Today, more than 25% of Comcast’s broadband subs are actively provisioned with native dual stack broadband Internet service, meaning they are actively using v6. While all DOCSIS 3.0-powered modems and gateways support IPv6, Comcast can also support the new addressing scheme (via a software upgrade) on several DOCSIS 2.0 models made by vendors such Arris/Motorola, Cisco, and Technicolor.

“At this stage in the game we’ve proven out that [IPv6] is very stable and it works quite well,” Brzozowski said.

The amount of IPv6 traffic running on Comcast’s network remains relatively small, but is growing. Brzozowski estimates that just under 3% of the traffic on Comcast’s network is v6.

“There’s a lot more progress to be made in 2014,” he said, noting that he’ll continue to urge the consumer electronics industry to support v6 inside smart TVs and other IP-connected devices at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Brzozowski has chaired the CEA’s IPv6 working group since the organization founded it in 2011. Following a period of learning and education about IPv6 for the CE industry, “now is the time for execution," he said.