OpenBSD version: Not relevant here... Arch: ? NSFP: Well...
IPv6 has been first specified in RFC1883 in December 1995, i.e., around 27 years ago. This ‘new’ protocol is nearly as old as… well, yours truly. Nevertheless, there is no ‘fullscale IPv6 adoption’ yet. What we see is mostly large content providers seeing a steady increase in clients from ISPs, especially in the global north, also having IPv6 connectivity. Then again, CIDR is from 1993, and we are still strugling with schools and universities teaching stuff involving ‘Class A’ networks. While there is undoubtedly some progress, v6 adoption is certainly not at the level we’d expect for a protocol older than HTTP/1.0, and we also see adoption stalling in some regions. So maybe… expectations on v6 adoption were a bit too high.
In any case, what we can observe at the moment is a lively discussions and various different perspectives on why and whether ‘it is worth it’ to deploy v6, and what drives (or inhibits) its adoption. However, in this article, we will take a slightly different perspective on IPv6 adoption; One more driven by our previous thoughts on decentralization and equitable access to the Internet. Specifically, we claim:
“The slow adoption of IPv6 hinders a re-decentralization of the Internet.”
Well, how do we get to that conclusion? The IPv4 address space is, for all practical matters exhausted and in any case globally unjustly distributed. With the Internet still being very much IPv4 centric—at least when it comes to the path outside of hypergiants—communities running their own services still need IPv4 addresses to provide services. Considering the state of the IPv4 address market, this easily means an investment of tens of thousands of dollars. While this is a prohibitive cost for a small community project, it enables hypergiants and large hosting corporations to further collect addresses on a relatively cheap price compared to their annual operating expenses, thereby further centralizing the Internet. So, if you do not have a network for yourself, just rent a box with one of the big ones…
At the same time, we also see that regions who got the shorter end of the stick when it comes to v4 address space historically (essentially everyone, expect for ARIN and RIPE), are now not only struggling with supplying addresses to their members, but they also find themselves as the targets of profit-driven address allocation. Where there is scarcity, there will be people trying to gain profit, and how bad profit aligns with infrastructural care is something we discussed before.
So, if we want to re-decentralize the Internet, work against (predatory) centralization, and ensure that there is equitable access to the Internet–also service providing opportunity wise–the only thing we can do is roll out more v6. And we are not talking about dual-stack here. Dual stack is a nice transition technology, but happy eyeballs is just insanely good at hiding broken v6, and ultimately we all know that nothing last longer than a temporary solution.
If we want to re-distribute the Internet, without further disadvantaging traditionally disadvantaged RIR regions, rolling out more IPv6 (only) is the only path forward.