The phenomenal global growth of the internet is leading to a shortage of internet addresses under the existing IPv4 protocol, which will stop new devices being connected in the near future. IPv6 provides enough addresses (340 trillion) to allow the internet to continue to expand and the industry to innovate. It is not, however, directly compatible with IPv4, meaning that devices and networks need to be upgraded to allow IPv6 connections.

Always at the forefront of innovation, GÉANT and NRENs across Europe have been IPv6 compliant for many years, having been built from the outset on the IPv6 protocol, and acting as an early test-bed for the technology. 

To coincide with World IPv6 Day on June 8 2011, GÉANT and many national research networks have taken the opportunity to summarise their IPv6 position below: 

The GÉANT pan-European network has been running native IPv6 since 2002, and multicast IPv6 since 2004. The experience gained from testing and implementing IPv6 on GÉANT has also been valuable to several other research projects dedicated to developing IPv6.

Funet, the Finnish University and Research Network, has been running IPv6 in production since 2003. Funet is a dual-stack network, supporting IPv4 and IPv6 access everywhere. All basic network services such as DNS and NTP have full IPv6 support. Additionally, Funet runs several transitional services to facilitate the adoption of IPv6. A project skeleton to facilitate the organising of campus transition activities has been created in close collaboration with Funet member organisations. http://www.csc.fi/english 

French NREN RENATER provides IPv4 and IPv6 connectivity services - in native mode since 2003. RENATER most frequently connects campus or research centres sites via regional or metropolitan networks of which nearly a third currently support the IPv6 protocol. Visualisation tools, like the IPv6 Weather Map (introduced in February 2009) are available on the RENATER web site. In addition to unicast, RENATER provides a multicast service in native mode for both versions of the IP protocol (IPv4 and IPv6) mainly for video retransmissions. RENATER has been a partner in a number of European programmes including 6NET, 6CHOICE and 6DISS. Currently, it is part of the 6DEPLOY-2 programme which aims to install a set of IPv6 test-beds in different continents. Additionally, extensive training material has been created and is kept up-to-date for practical training sessions on IPv6 deployment and management. http://www.renater.fr/ 

HEAnet, Ireland’s NREN, has been running IPv6 in production on all public services since 2003. It is currently in the middle of a three-part strategy to work towards a stable transition. Firstly, managing remaining IPv4 usage, then preparing a full IPv6-only service that interoperates with the IPv4 internet, and thirdly assisting clients and partners in the transition. http://www.heanet.ie/ 

Students and researchers will soon be able to use the eduroam roaming service to connect through IPv6 to the rest of the world from public gardens, parks, archaeological sites and major squares all around Rome and its surroundings, thanks to a joint project carried out by Province of Rome, GARR (the Italian NREN) and CASPUR, a major Italian supercomputing Inter-University Consortium. The Province of Rome has created ProvinciaWiFi, a widespread wireless network with more than 700 hotspots, covering open spaces all around the city and the surrounding province, as well as being available in libraries, cafés, restaurants and other public places. Previously citizens and tourists needed to register in order to access the network, but now students and researchers will be able to just open their laptop and log on thanks to the implementation of eduroam. Extensive tests have been successfully carried out, both in IPv4 and IPv6 over the last few months with the operational phase due to start in June 2011. http://www.garr.it 

The production use of IPv6 inside Luxembourg NREN RESTENA began by enabling dual-stack on the backbone network in 2003. From then onwards, IPv6 was subsequently introduced into RESTENA’s service portfolio and through international peerings to achieve complete integration. IPv6 is available for virtually all customer edge networks in a true dual-stack setup. To guarantee a smooth transition dual-stack user connectivity is based on an opt-in basis. IPv4 and IPv6 are both equally integrated into RESTENA’s work-flow, with full transparency from the user perspective. An overview of RESTENA’s work is available at http://www.restena.lu/restena/en/EN-ServIPv6.html

In 2001, SURFnet was the one of the first networks in the world to support native IPv6. Institutes are encouraged to obtain a native IPv6 connection to SURFnet. In 2010, SURFnet started actively supporting institutes in their adoption of IPv6. A number of practical documents have been published, on key issues like security, routing & switching, implementation and number plan. SURFnet has also formed support teams for hands-on support at institutes. Other activities include hands-on training, enabling IPv6 within its own (non-network) services, sponsoring the IPv6 Award for the best Dutch IPv6 implementation and the proposal for the “comply or explain” list of the Dutch government in order to have IPv6 mandatory for ICT-related tenders of the government (or a good excuse why not). IPv6 is included on this list since November 2010. http://www.surfnet.nl 

UNINETT have been IPv6 compliant since 1998 and has offered IPv6 to its customers since 2005. Currently 62 per cent of the higher education institutions in Norway are IPv6 enabled, with some institutions having almost 50 per cent of the clients running IPv6. More information is available at https://ow.feide.no/gigacampus:ipv6status_english

FCCN, the Portuguese NREN, was one of the first European NRENs to natively connect to GÉANT over IPv6 in 2003. Since then FCCN has been driving its members to deliver their basic internet services over IPv6, including web content, DNS and email services. FCCN has developed two national projects focused on IPv6 and presented at several conferences, including the TERENA Networking Conference. FCCN has also been involved in successful EC sponsored projects like 6NET, 6DISS and 6DEPLOY and is currently participating in 6DEPLOY-2. http://www.fccn.pt

The Romanian NREN – Agency for Administration of the National Network for Education and Research (AARNIEC) – RoEduNet has been using production IPv6 since 2003. At that time, all backbone network equipment was already configured to offer dual-stack IPv4/IPv6 connectivity. IPv6 tests in RoEduNet began in 1997, when the first IPv6 island in Bucharest was connected to 6bone, using open-source software and tunneling techniques. Later, the main RoEduNet NOCs and universities located in Iasi, Cluj and Timisoara, where IPv6 connected using same tools. Now native IPv6 connectivity is available in all our NOCs and POPs, significant IPv6 users are universities and research institutes. IPv6 users are growing, and RoEduNet also participates in Google IPv6 program.

ARNES is one of the earliest adopters of IPv6 in Europe. A step-by-step, long term approach was chosen to deploy IPv6 into the national backbone and services, beginning with the first IPv6 Land Speed Record in 2002 when GÉANT was piloting IPv6 connectivity. Today the ARNES backbone is IPv6 ready. Most services, with the exception of email, are offered to ARNES members over IPv6. ARNES is actively collaborating with the Go6 - Slovenian IPv6 initiative, particularly in organising Slovenian IPv6 summits, conferences, technical workshops as well as providing an active contribution to IPv6 deployment strategy on the national scale, focusing on education and promotion. Recommendations and best practice documents are being prepared to ensure a smooth deployment of IPv6 for ARNES members. ARNES will also take an active part in the World IPv6 Day in Slovenia. http://www.arnes.si

RedIRIS was the first NREN connected to GÉANT with native IPV6 and participated in the working group to deploy it. RedIRIS has been active in this field since since 1998, making research and dissemination about this protocol between their 400+ affiliated institutions (Spanish universities and research centres), and this NREN will participate in the IPV6 World Day with several activities. More information in:http://www.rediris.es/actividades/ipv6day/index.html.en

IPv6 was introduced into SWITCH's education and research network, to which all Swiss universities are connected, in 2006. The www.switch.ch and www.nic.ch websites can similarly be reached via IPv6. At SWITCH, every day is an IPv6 day. As the Swiss internet pioneer of the first hour, SWITCH welcomes the rapid introduction of IPv6, which can contribute towards the long-term benefit of the Internet. More information at:http://www.switch.ch/about/news/2011/world-ipv6-day.html

ULAKNET has been IPv6 enabled for 8 years now. ULAKNET was connected to the global IPv6 backbone through GEANT in  2003. At the same time ULAKBIM internet services (such as DNS, FTP, SMTP etc.) has been made available over IPv6. Additionally, ULAK6NET backbone to which IPv6 capable universities and research institutions can be connected was established. Simultaneously ULAKNET6NET IPv6 Task Force , which members were IT professionals, network and system administrators was established  as a part of  IPv6 dissemination activities.

*Funet and UNINETT are part of NORDUnet, a joint collaboration by the 5 Nordic National Research and Education Networks in Denmark (Forskningsnettet), Finland (Funet), Iceland (RHnet), Norway (Uninett) and Sweden (SUNET).