Red Flags Raised About Fed’s IPv6 Plans

WASHINGTON — Without more government leadership on the transition to
Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), U.S. commerce could potentially face
“devastating” competition from Europe and Asia.

According to testimony before a House panel Wednesday, Europe and Asia have
invested more than $800 million in the next generation IP protocol designed
for more address space, mobility and security in peer-to-peer networking.
Japan’s NTT has more IPv6 customers than all American companies combined.

“A loss of public trust and reputations over U.S. networks using the
existing, highly vulnerable IPv4 protocol, coupled with an increase in trust
if IPv6 networks in [Europe and Japan] could have a devastating effect on
America’s service economy,” Alex Lightman, CEO of Charmed Technology, told
the lawmakers.

Without U.S. government leadership, he warned, “We get a loss of millions of
jobs and market share across thousands of companies.”

IPv4 has been in use for almost 30 years and cannot support emerging
requirements brought on by broadband networks. IPv6 will coexist with IPv4
and eventually provide better internetworking capabilities than those
currently available with IPv4.

The Pentagon lit a fire under U.S. IPv6 interests when it announced in 2003
that it planned to convert to the new protocol by 2006, a date that has
already been pushed back to 2008. In April, the White House directed all
federal agencies to provide a preliminary report on their planning
activities for the transition to IPv6.

“Only the Department of Defense (DOD) had taken any significant effort in
this area,” Karen Evans, the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB)
E-Government administrator, said Wednesday. “We are about to take the first
step and issue a policy memorandum providing guidance to the agencies to
ensure an orderly and secure transition to IPv6.”

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report issued Wednesday, confirmed
Evans’ assessment. “Unlike the DOD, the majority of other federal
agencieshave not yet initiated transistion planning for IPv6,” the report

Evans told the House Committee on Government Reform that the OMB is setting
a June 2008 date for all federal agencies’ network backbones to be using

“Once the backbones are ready, the applications and other elements will
follow,” Evans said. “Overall, the actions set out in our policy will begin
to address the many challenges that come with the IPv6 transition.”

For Charmed’s Lightman, who also serves as chairman of the Coalition Summit
for IPv6, the government leadership can’t come fast enough.

“When the U.S. government showed leadership, as we did with the post office,
the interstate highway system, airplanes, lasers, radar, computer chips and
satellites, we are world leaders even decades later,” he said. “Where our
government did not show leadership, including color televisions, big screens
and high definition television, digital cameras and DVDs, America plays
almost no role, except as a consumer.”

Lightman urged Congress to mandate IPv6 for the entire federal government.

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