South Africa is hopelessly ill-prepared for the move from Internet protocol version 4 to version 6, with IPv4 address space set to run out by as early as March 2020.
That’s the warning from the Internet Service Providers’ Association (Ispa), which said on Tuesday that South Africa has fallen behind some other African countries, including Zimbabwe, in the shift to IPv6, and that this poses potentially serious problems for the country’s development.
IPv4 addresses have already run out in every region other than Africa.
Although there are technical workarounds that can help to mitigate potential adverse consequences, Ispa warned that there is ultimately no alternative but to adopt IPv6 across the board if South Africa is going to benefit from advances such as 5G, the Internet of things and smart cities.
“Alarmingly, figures published by Google reflect South Africa’s IPv6 adoption at 0.4%, substantially behind Zimbabwe at 6% and Gabon at 14.4%, all well below the global average of 29.4%,” Ispa said in a statement.
Among the so-called Brics nations, India has reached 39.6% adoption, Brazil 28.9%, Russia 4.3% and China 1.3%, the association said.
“IPv6 compliance needs to come out of the basement and into the light so that it can be made South Africa’s Internet issue of the day until it is resolved,” said Ispa chairman André van der Walt.
‘Nuts and bolts’
“It’s that serious because we cannot let the ICTs that should be the vehicles for positive socioeconomic change slip away due to a simple nuts-and-bolts compliance issue.”
For one thing, moving to IPv6 is important to ensure customers of Internet service providers do not experience any difficulties when accessing local and overseas websites that exclusively use IPv6, he explained.
Ispa said it has facilitated the roll-out of IPv6 by providing a virtual local-area network at the Johannesburg Internet Exchange to facilitate testing for ISPs that connect there.
Van der Walt praised AfriNIC, the regional Internet registry responsible for assigning IP address blocks, for running a “comprehensive series of planning and transition workshops to ensure local network engineers and systems administrators are comfortable implementing and managing IPv6 networks”.
“AfriNIC’s IPv6 awareness and capacity-building initiatives are to be applauded as they specifically aim to train an impressive 600 network engineers a year.” — (c) 2019 NewsCentral Media