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World IPv6 Launch Anniversary: Measuring Adoption One Year Later

It has been a year since I last wrote about World IPv6 Launch and our measurements of IPv6 adoption at the time. Since then, we've seen continued momentum around increased IPv6 adoption on multiple fronts, with more IPv6 end users as well as with more content becoming available over IPv6. The net result of this is that IPv6 traffic on Akamai's global platform has increased to be over 250% of its June 2012 level, and we are now delivering around 10 billion requests per day over IPv6, up from around 3.4 billion requests per day at this time last year. Over the course of a given week, Akamai is now seeing between 200 million and 300 million unique IPv6 addresses contact our network.

In addition, we have observed continued momentum in IPv6 adoption by our customers, with over twice as many customers delivering IPv6-enabled properties from our platform as we had at World IPv6 Launch last June.

Akamai also continues to increase the footprint of our IPv6 network deployment as more of our network partners make IPv6 connectivity available. We now have IPv6 enabled in 64 countries and over 800 network locations around the globe.

IPV6_Image1.jpg
IPv6 Requests/Day on Akamai from June 2012 to June 2013

While IPv4 is still the dominant protocol on the Internet and will be for years to come, IPv6 adoption continues to move forward, especially in the mobile space and in some parts of the world. We explore this in more detail below.
IPv6 User Distribution
A common question that many content providers and website operators want to know is, "If I enable IPv6 on my site, how many of my end-user requests will come in over IPv6?" The answer to this question varies widely based on the demographics of the site, with factors such as end-user geographical distribution, device distribution, and even time-of-day and network conditions.

To better understand this, we analyzed 262 billion requests against dual-stacked sites -- a sample of the requests arriving during a 24 hour period on June 12th. A dual-stacked site is one that is available over both IPv4 and IPv6, and is the only viable transition mechanism for content due to the lack of direct connectivity between the IPv4 Internet and the IPv6 Internet.

Across sites that are dual-stacked on Akamai today, the global average has approximately 1.5% of the content requests coming in over IPv6, which is roughly 2x what we saw in June 2012. Sites which have an audience in the U.S. will often see well over 2% of their requests arriving over IPv6.

IPv6 and Mobile
The highest ratio of IPv6 to IPv4 requests is often observed on some dedicated mobile sites (such as "m.example.com" types of sites), where we see 4-9% of the requests arriving over IPv6. This is likely to be heavily influenced by a few mobile providers (such as Verizon Wireless) that have rolled out IPv6 to much of their network and where IPv6 is supported by many of their recent devices.

In the following table we look at a sample of IPv6 utilization by mobile device operating systems that have significant IPv6 support (using Akamai's Mobile Browser Detection for categorization). Many older mobile operating systems had little to no IPv6 usage so are not included. Note that the table is grouped by mobile operating system family.

Mobile Operating System

IPv6 as % of Requests

Windows Phone OS 8

12.0%

BlackBerry OS 10

5.9%

Android 4.1/4.2 ("JellyBean")

10.8%

Android 4.0 ("Ice Cream Sandwich")

3.2%

Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread")

1.6%

Apple iOS 6

1.8%

Apple iOS 5

1.4%

Apple iOS 3/4

1.1%


Within Android, there are individual device types where well over 50% of the traffic to dual-stacked websites arrived over IPv6. As IPv6 adoption continues to grow as more mobile carriers roll-out IPv6, and as the portion of newer devices with IPv6 support increases, providers of mobile web sites and content will need to start taking IPv6 support into serious consideration, making sure that their sites and applications work reliably on devices with IPv6 connectivity.

IPv6 and Desktop/Laptop Operating Systems
Taking a similar look at some desktop and laptop operating systems, we see results in the following table:

Operating System

Browser

IPv6 as % of Requests

Microsoft Windows 8


4.1%

Microsoft Windows Vista


3.3%

Microsoft Windows 7


2.5%

Microsoft Windows XP


0.5%

Mac OS X 10.5 & 10.6

Chrome & Firefox

3.4%

Mac OS X 10.5 & 10.6

Safari

3.3%

Mac OS X 10.7 & 10.8

Chrome & Firefox

3.3%

Mac OS X 10.7 & 10.8

Safari

2.1%


Within most of the operating systems, there are only small variations in IPv6 usage between different browsers. However, with recent versions of Mac OS X and Safari, we are seeing IPv6 getting used less frequently due to the "Happy Eyeballs" implementation. While this behavior results in an undercounting of IPv6 penetration and lower IPv6 traffic, it can mean a potentially better user experience for those users as the browser will choose to use IPv4 or IPv6 based on which is providing better connectivity.

Given the relatively low usage of IPv6 by Windows XP (as well some other older operating systems that entirely lack IPv6 support), we should see IPv6 usage increase as those computers are replaced over time by newer computers using more modern operating systems that have functional IPv6 support.

IPv6 by Geography
In looking at IPv6 adoption across some countries (for the 24 hour period on May 23rd) we see that a few European countries are in the lead, often due to one or more large providers within that country that have enabled IPv6. They are followed by the U.S. and Japan, where a number of network providers have enabled IPv6.

Country

IPv6 as % of Requests

Switzerland

10.4%

Romania

7.7%

France

4.6%

Luxembourg

3.6%

Belgium

3.3%

United States of America

3.2%

Germany

2.9%

Japan

2.1%

Peru

2.1%

Norway

1.4%

Czech Republic

1.4%

Slovenia

1.0%

China

1.3%

Portugal

0.7%

Greece

0.7%

South Africa

0.3%

Australia

0.2%

Canada

0.2%

Russian Federation

0.1%

United Kingdom

0.1%

India

0.05%

Brazil

0.03%


IPv6 adoption within the United States has increased significantly over the past year (from 0.2% in November 2011 to around 0.9% in June 2012 to 2.8% this May and 3.2% this June), and is likely to continue to increase this year as a number of large ISPs continue to roll out IPv6 to more portions of their network and as older devices are retired on networks that already have IPv6 support.

For a historical perspective on similar geographic data, Eric Vyncke has an interface on top of data provided by Google.

IPv6 by Network Operator
When we look at which network operators are responsible for significant IPv6 traffic, we see that Verizon Wireless is the leader in traffic volume, with over one third of their requests from our sample arriving over IPv6. The degree of IPv6 adoption by devices on Verizon Wireless is a major factor in the high rate of IPv6 usage among mobile sites and some mobile device types.

The table below lists IPv6 request rates for traffic originating from some of the network providers responsible for the highest volumes of IPv6 traffic during the sampled period.

Network Provider

IPv6 as % of Requests

Primary Country

Verizon Wireless

34.9%

U.S.A.

Brutele (VOO)

29.7%

Belgium

Free/Proxad

18.9%

France

RCS & RDS

18.5%

Romania

Swisscom

15.8%

Switzerland

KDDI

9.9%

Japan

AT&T

8.4%

U.S.A.

Comcast

3.2%

U.S.A.

Deutsche Telekom AG

3.4%

Germany

Telefonica del Peru

2.6%

Peru

Time Warner Cable

0.3%

U.S.A.


A number of universities (including Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Virginia Tech, Indiana University, and Clemson University) also had over half of their requests arrive over IPv6.

For additional network operator IPv6 adoption measurements, see http://www.worldipv6launch.org/measurements/, which aggregates results from a number of content providers.

IPv6 Content Availability
In addition to the growth of IPv6 end-users around the world, we have also seen continued momentum in more content and web sites being made available over IPv6. In particular, we now have over twice as many customers with content dual-stacked on our platform as we had a year ago. While many of our customers who participated in World IPv6 Launch last year were from the High Tech, Internet, or US Government sectors, we're now seeing increased diversity with more consumer-oriented sites, global brands, and other international governments starting to make their content available over IPv6 as well.

A number of cloud service providers are now using Akamai's platform to deliver content over IPv6, resulting in us delivering IPv6 content on tens of thousands of hostnames. U.S. Government agencies alone account for over 1600 additional dual-stacked sites on our platform.

To make it easier for Akamai's customers to make content available over IPv6, our IPv6 Adaptation technology is included out-of-the-box in many of our latest products and solutions, including Terra Alta, Aqua Ion, and Kona Site Defender. In addition, we have recently made it easier for customers of many of our other products dual-stack their sites and content. If you are an existing customer, feel free to contact your Akamai representative for more details.

Looking Forward
To put today's single-digit and low double-digit IPv6 adoption figures into perspective, just 18 months ago we were looking at and comparing numbers that were tiny fractions of one percent. We should continue to see significant increases over the next few years as older devices lacking IPv6 support are replaced and as more providers around the world continue their IPv6 roll-outs. While we are likely to be with IPv4 for a long-time to come, the continued momentum over the past year provides an indication that there is a path forward to navigate around the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses without relying purely on a proliferation of NAT (Network Address Translation). Some network operators are already starting to ask the question of when they will be able to provision users with only IPv6 connectivity.

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