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Cable Technology Feature Article

February 01, 2011

Cable Industry Getting Ready to Transition to IPv6

By Rajani Baburajan, TMCnet Contributor

The cable industry is well positioned to transition to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) as the addresses from the current IPv4 are facing exhaustion, according to Paul Liao, President and CEO of CableLabs.

Industry experts anticipate that the IPv4 addresses that the Internet registries can allocate to any Internet Service Providers (ISPs) requesting additional addresses, will run out later this year.

For cable operators, the solution to the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses will be the ubiquitous implementation of IPv6 protocol technology. During the transition to IPv6, they have developed strategies to continue offering IPv4 service while the transition to IPv6 is completed.

CableLabs (News - Alert), a non-profit research and development consortium, started updating its specifications in 2004 to account for IPv6 usage. DOCSIS 3.0 has supported IPv6, while allowing for IPv4 compatibility. CableLabs ensured backward compatibility into the preceding DOCSIS 2.0 specification, which accommodates the IPv6 protocol through upgraded cable modem termination systems. These steps should allow cable broadband subscribers uninterrupted service during the transition to IPv6.

CableLabs and its cable system operator members have been working on this transition for more than six years. To ensure continued delivery of broadband service available, cable operators will minimize the effects of the transition on end users.

Comcast (News - Alert) has been conducting field trials of IPv6 deployments, and has established an information rich site for consumers on the protocol transition,” said Tony Werner, CTO of Comcast, in a statement. “We have been planning for years, and are currently deploying IPv6 resources, so our customers will not be impacted.” 

Time Warner (News - Alert) Cable has long been preparing for the eventual end of IPv4 address availability,” Mike LaJoie, CTO of Time Warner Cable, in a statement. “We’ve decided that the best architecture for ensuring the level of performance our customers expect is ‘dual stack,’ which supports both IPv4 and IPv6 protocols.”

The emergency for a transition arises because the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) recently announced its distribution of the final IPv4 address blocks. IPv4 has capability to address about 4.3 billion devices on the Internet.

Recently, CableLabs published a new specification as a guide for producers, programmers and aggregators of stereoscopic 3D programming. This new specification details exact requirements for formatting or 'panelizing' the 3D content into a frame-compatible format for use by cable television systems.

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Rajani Baburajan is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Rajani's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jamie Epstein