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NTT Donates IPv6 Bandwidth to Open Source

Open source networking

Contributing to open source typically conjures images of working on a project's code. But offering bandwidth is another critical way the movement can benefit.

That's the approach taken by NTT America, a Tier 1 carrier and a division of Japan-based NTT Communications, which is now helping open source by donating IPv6 transit to the Internet Systems Consortium (ISC).

The ISC is a nonprofit organization that leads the development of the open source BIND DNS server and also hosts the F-root name servers. The group's Hosted@ISC effort also provides hosting for some of the top open source efforts, including Mozilla, FreeBSD and kernel.org, the official Linux kernel repository.

The IPv6 donation by NTT America, which has been working with ISC since 2002, will deliver additional bandwidth for Hosted@ISC, as well as potentially spurring open source adoption of IPv6 -- which might help to counter the sluggish pace of IPv6 deployment in the U.S. and elsewhere.

"NTT has been a longtime contributor of network services to ISC," Peter Losher, program manager for Hosted@ISC, told InternetNews.com "This expansion of IPv6 connectivity is a result of our mutual desire to see the use of IPv6 grow. NTT's donation effectively doubles our IPv6 transit."

Davis suggested the donated bandwidth could potentially amount to thousands of dollars per month.

"As a backbone provider, we charge our customers based upon a factored amount of the bandwidth they utilize," Christopher Davis, IPv6 product manager at NTT America, told InternetNews.com. "This figure could change on a monthly basis, so it's hard to peg an exact figure [on the donation]. Having said that, NTT America has donated ISC a Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) connection, [so] they could use up to 1,000 mbps."

Davis also said telecom researcher TeleGeography recently reported that GigE connections in the San Francisco Bay Area carry an average monthly cost of $14 per mbps -- bringing the total potential donation to $14,000 worth of bandwidth at current prices.

Added Losher, "We can tell you, ISC, as a 501(c)(3) public-benefit organization, couldn't afford to buy this amount of connectivity."

"NTT has not asked for a tax deductible receipt," he also said.

For the telecom provider, on factor behind the donation was the chance to benefit open source.

"NTT utilizes and respects open source projects," Davis said. "I wouldn't characterize open source as a key strategy for the network, however, many of the engineering staff are directly involved with the IETF, IEEE, NANOG, APRICOT and other standards bodies -- many of which include open source aspects in their governance."

Meanwhile, the ISC is hoping that the NTT donation will continue to raise awareness of IPv6 and encourage adoption among its Hosted@ISC participants.

"We have several participants already using IPv6, like FreeBSD and Mozilla," Losher said. "We hope to add the rest over time."

FreeBSD is the biggest user of the ISC's IPv6 bandwidth, Losher said. Not surprisingly, the project's leadership applauded NTT's move.

"The FreeBSD Project greatly appreciates the opportunity to use ISC's high-performance IPv6 transit," said Robert Watson, president of the FreeBSD Foundation, in a statement. "As early adopters and implementers of IPv6 networking, this gives us the chance to exercise and improve IPv6 support in our operating system, as well as serve our current IPv6-ready users better."

A Mozilla spokesperson declined to comment on how Mozilla currently uses IPv6. However, the project represents 25 percent of ISC's total IPv6 traffic "on any given day," Losher said.