Gearing up for E- Needs: Internet Protocol Version Change

By- Alkesh Tyagi,Dy. Director (C&IT), PIB

After the telecom revolution it is now the turn of e-initiatives to change the life of common Indian. The day is not far when the common man will be able to access and process all his needs and deeds from his desktop, laptop or palmtop.

The Government is making all efforts to translate the dream of paperless governance into a reality. Over 671 million telephone subscribers, 20 million Broadband connections and 3G services are expected to be rolled out by the end of 2010, targeting 40% rural teledensity and Broadband connectivity to all Gram Panchayats by 2012. Plans are also afoot for delivering financial services using mobile technology. These factors clubbed with e-governance initiatives i.e. mandatory e-delivery of identified services are going to further enhance the magnitude of e-demands.

Of 1100 citizen and business centric services targeted for delivery, over 600 services of various Departments of Central and State Governments are now available online-any time, anywhere. With the number of mobile subscribers likely to exceed one billion by 2014, the system has to gear up for the situation.

Keeping this in view, the Government decided to facilitate the use of Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6), the Internet technology take Internet to 1.1 billion people, in the country in June 2009. After a year in July 2010, the Government has released the roadmap for Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) deployment in the country in a time bound manner. It has also decided to form an IPv6 Task Force in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode for timely implementation of IPv6 in the country. This roadmap and the formation of the IPv6 Task Force together would enable Indians citizens to start using IPv6 services by March 2012. For this all Telecom and Internet Service providers are required to become IPv6 compliant by December-2011. For smooth and timely transition from Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) to IPv6 by stakeholders, procurement of IPv6 complaint equipments is being ensured , awareness being created and methodology being worked out for transition from (IPv4) to IPv6.

Need for Change
Growing demand for new addresses globally and expanding communication networks have necessitated timely action and implementation of new strategies to handle ever increasing e- traffic. Other countries including USA, EU, Japan are deploying IPv6 today.
Like a telephone has to have a number for getting connected, a computer has to have an IP address to participate in a Information Communication Technology ICT) network. Traditional communication networks are undergoing a big change and moving into the era of Internet protocol (IP). Nowadays, technology is changing rapidly and the Internet protocol is slowly evolving as the global standard for communication. In future all networks and services will converge to packet based networks running the Internet Protocol. This is very much evident in the deployment of Next generation Networks (NGN) by our service providers, which is the future of telecommunications. The transition to IPv6 is required because in the near future IPv4 addresses will not be available for penetration of broadband and other IP based services. Therefore, IPv6 addresses will be the only choice left.

Various Greenfield applications especially in areas like electricity generation and distribution, telemedicine, healthcare, tele-education would accelerate their penetration through the deployment of IPv6. Internet Protocol is a connection-less protocol, in contrast to so-called connection-oriented modes of transmission. Because of this faults like data corruption, lost data packets, duplicate arrival and out-of-order packet delivery; meaning, if packet ‘A’ is sent before packet ‘B’, packet ‘B’ may arrive before packet ‘A’ may occur. To streamline these reliability issues the successor Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) is being deployed actively worldwide.

What is Internet Protocol?
The Internet Protocol (IP) is one of the determining elements that define the Internet. The Internet Protocol is a protocol used for communicating data across a packet-switched internetwork using the Internet Protocol Suite. IP is the primary protocol in the Internet Layer of the Internet Protocol Suite and has the task of delivering distinguished protocol datagrams (packets) from the source host to the destination host solely based on their addresses. For this purpose the Internet Protocol defines addressing methods and structures for datagram encapsulation. The Internet Protocol specifies that each communication device on a network should have a unique address to communicate globally with other devices on the Network. This unique address is known as IP address.

IP Address
An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a numerical label that is assigned to devices participating in an ICT network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication between its nodes. The IP address performs 3 main functions of communicating, “Who”, “Where” and “How” on the packet network.

Allotment of IP Addresses
Various organizations control the allocation of these IP addresses. The apex body in the world for Internet Standards is Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). It allocated these IP addresses to Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). IANA is the entity that oversees global IP address allocation and further allocates these addresses to the Regional Internet Registries (RIR), which further allocates them to Internet service providers (ISPs), also sometimes referred to as an Internet access provider (IAP), and other organizations. In case of India, the addresses are allocated by APNIC, the RIR that allocates IP and AS numbers in the Asia Pacific region

History of IP versions
In May 1974, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) published a paper authored by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn. The paper entitled “A Protocol for Packet Network Interconnection” described an internetworking protocol for sharing resources using packet-switching among the nodes. A central control component of this model was the “Transmission Control Program” (TCP) that incorporated both connection-oriented links and datagram services between hosts.
This Program later evolved into Transmission Control Protocol at the connection-oriented layer and the Internet Protocol at the internetworking (datagram) layer. The model became known informally as TCP/IP and formally as the Internet Protocol Suite.

The first major version of addressing structure, now referred to as Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) is still the dominant protocol of the Internet. It is perceived that IPv4 is very robust and has been around for quite sometime, maybe around 25 years now but it has many limitations too. It has a limited addressing space of only 32 bits and the free pool of IPv4 addresses will be exhausted very soon. The IANA pool is likely to exhaust by October-2011. As far as India is concerned, the addresses are allocated by APNIC and currently we have approximately 18.5 million unique IPv4 addresses. It is estimated that within a year’s time about 60 million new addresses will be needed for various broadband and e-governance initiatives.

IPv6 is the next generation Internet Protocol with improvement over the initial version of IPv4. It is a scalable Internet technology with a potential to help the Internet reach 1.1 billion people of India. The role of IPv6 is not limited to Internet access alone but it is important in Defence, e-Governance and other crucial government projects. IP security in IPv6 provides end-to-end security implying that data is secured from the originating workstation through various routers of the Internet to the destined workstation. IPv6 has 128 bits as compared to the limited addressing space of only 32 bits in IPv4. The new Internet protocol will give practically unlimited addresses besides a host of new and advanced features for running the future communication networks.

The transition from IPv4 to IPv6 in the country is of critical concern in view of the changing ICT scenario in the country. The transition from IPv4 to IPv6 is not simply a protocol upgrade. It involves hardware changes also in addition to software. Moreover, it cannot be done overnight. It needs time; therefore both IPv4 and IPv6 will co-exist for many more years to come.
(PIB Features)

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