Internet service providers given a year to upgrade networks

Patch network cables connected to switch. [iStockphoto]

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and large corporates have until July next year to install systems compatible with the latest Internet Protocol.  

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) yesterday released a roadmap showing the country will migrate from the IPv4 address system to IPv6 in the next 12 months.

“Due to non-compatibility between IPv6 and IPv4 protocols, communication between systems using the different address formats would require software changes and address translations at every non-IPv6 device the data traverses or hardware changes, dual stacks for the communication to proceed from end to end,” says the regulator in a public consultation report.

IPv6 is the latest version of a set of rules used by connected devices to organise and exchange information.

Until recently, the majority of the world was using IPV4 with a limited address pool of four billion addresses.

The rise in demand for connected devices, including the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine communications, however, has led to a spike in public IP addresses. Experts believe the world will have exhausted IPv4 by the end of this year.

According to CA, Kenya’s adoption of IPv6 is currently at eight per cent, with Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda at 0.3 per cent, 0.11 per cent and 6.3 per cent respectively.

A delay in full adoption of IPv6 could cut off millions of users from the Internet and raise the cost of doing business for ISPs, and these costs could be passed on to consumers.

“If adoption to IPv6 is not realised in Kenya, network providers will have to put up with the complicated deployment of networks that require address translation, tunnelling and dual-stack to communicate with IPv6 networks,” explains CA. 

“New devices that may require Internet access and have no IPv4 addresses due to exhaustion will not be able to access the Internet,” adds the regulator. 

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