IPv6 Meets the 800-Pound Gorillas

What do 800-pound gorillas do? Whatever they damn well please.

The last few days I’ve been puzzling over how on earth the Internet Society (ISOC) achieved what it’s done for IPv6 in the last two years. Internet Society? They’re the do-gooders who ‘strive to make the world a better place’ by connecting and collaborating and advocating that the Internet is for everyone. Bunch of tragic hippies – right?

Well, no. In an economic downturn, ISOC quietly persuaded the 800-pound gorillas of Internet content and carriage to put their money into switching to IPv6: that’s a lot of networks, servers, labour and hard cash. So who were some of the companies ISOC persuaded to turn on IPv6, permanently, for World IPv6 Launch, June 2012?

The top four Alexa content providers: Google (48% of global users every day), Facebook (46%), YouTube (33%), and Yahoo (22%). Plus the top four ISP, phone and cable providers in the US: AT&T ($127 billion revenue 2011), Verizon Wireless ($111 billion), Comcast ($56 billion) and Time Warner Cable ($20 billion).

These companies don’t do nice, especially when it costs them money: they operate in a market that would soar if companies started selling their employees’ children for medical experiments. No matter how persuasive ISOC’s message is, 800-pound gorillas do nothing unless it’s for their own benefit. And if these companies have gone IPv6, it’s a done deal. It doesn’t really matter what anyone else does, at least in the US.

But here in our placid Australian backwater? Well, we don’t have Internet gorillas – at best a couple of largish ring-tail lemurs, whose nervous approach to IPv6 is shown, right. Luckily we also have some smart, small, agile primates – Internode/iiNet and PPS Internet (IPv6Now’s provider) – who are far ahead of the Australian pack in offering consumer IPv6.

I wonder if Telstra and Optus think their market share will steamroller everyone else, when they inescapably have to start providing IPv6 to consumers? Clearly some real Internet gorillas thought the leap into the future was worth doing now.

(Images Jessie Cohen, Smithsonian National Zoological Park, with apologies to ring-tailed lemurs everywhere.)


IPv6 Meets the 800-Pound Gorillas — 1 Comment

  1. You are quite correct that profit and self-preservation are the primary (sole?) motivators of the major telco’s. In your analysis you’ve correctly identified the 2 types of gorillas involved being the content providers and the access providers. Of course their motivations are different but the outcome is the same: move to IPv6.

    I think that there is a single motivation prompting that move and that is chasing the growth markets. Right now there are 2 dimensions to market growth:
    – Geographic – that is Asia especially China and India but also Malaysia and Indonesia etc
    – Platform/Technology – mobile, mobile, and mobile

    Both of those growth dimensions require v6. My view of your observation is that the major telco’s know that and are pursuing those markets aggressively.

    Our local varieties are not so highly motivated as they are too inward focussed. So blinding themselves to the geographic opportunity and to the fact that the Australian domestic market is sufficiently small so as to not require the scale provided by v6.

    Just my thoughts.

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