The 6UK board has determined that the organisation cannot fulfil its purpose and therefore the directors, all volunteers, resigned at today’s AGM without seeking re-election. In the absence of nominations to the board, 6UK is to be wound up in accordance with its articles of association.

BBC technology news 7 Nov 12 article

BBC technology news 7 Nov 12 article, updated 8 Nov 12

6UK is a not-for-profit membership organisation founded with seed funding of £20k from BIS in April 2010 to help the UK and UK organisations secure every competitive advantage available from the rapid adoption of the new protocol.

The UK lags its neighbours, economies of similar size, G20 and EU member states when it comes to uptake of the new Internet protocol, IPv6. This is of growing concern because the RIPE NCC (the Regional Internet Registry for Europe, the Middle East and parts of Central Asia) began to allocate its very last address space of the previous protocol, IPv4, in September this year.

Many factors impact the uptake of IPv6 and clearly free-market incentives are insufficient. Yet at a country level, delayed adoption significantly impacts national competitiveness, innovation and skills deleteriously. It may also hobble UK based companies facility to compete internationally.

From observing global IPv6 adoption patterns in recent times, one factor appears to dominate IPv6 adoption rates, namely government support. Countries with hands-off governments fall behind.

Additional information

The Internet equivalent of a telephone number is known as an Internet Protocol address, or IP address for short. Just as you need someone’s telephone number to call him or her, network technology needs an address when instructed to dispatch a packet of data from one computer to another.

Today, the Internet mostly uses IP version 4 (IPv4) but this has now reached the limits of its capacity. IANA – the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority – issued the last IPv4 address to the Regional Internet Registries in February 2011.

Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is the next generation protocol that provides vastly expanded address space, allowing the Internet to grow to many billions of times its current size.

Every organisation must consider the implications of the need to transition to IPv6 and decide what action it needs to take. Fortunately, having been defined towards the end of the 1990s, IPv6 is a well understood and low risk protocol.

Useful resources

An executive briefing and project planning guide are available at: http://www.6uk.org.uk/resources

For general information about 6UK, please visit: http://www.6uk.org.uk

Note: The 6UK website will continue serving until end-December.

For general information from the RIPE NCC: http://www.ipv6actnow.org

RIPE NCC on IPv4 exhaustion: http://www.ripe.net/internet-coordination/ipv4-exhaustion

For analyses at RIPE LABS: https://labs.ripe.net/statistics/?tags=ipv6

For country statistics by Cisco: http://6lab.cisco.com/stats/index.php

Recent article about US government efforts: http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/news/internet/3400101/how-us-is-winning-race-next-gen-internet (IPv6 is a requirement for network enabled products and services purchased by the US government.)

The IPv6 Forum:http://www.ipv6forum.com

The IPv6 Observatory: http://www.ipv6observatory.eu

Contact details

Philip Sheldrake – 07715 488 759

Nigel Titley – 07956 619 345


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42 Responses to “6UK powerless to encourage IPv6 adoption. Board resigns.”

  1. Bernie says:

    If the big companies and institutions in the US would stop hoarding and give back all the IPV4 addresses they don’t need we’d have enough left for a long time.
    Have a look at
    Companies sitting on entire class A blocks of over 16 million addresses each include IBM, apple, General Electric Company, Ford Motor Company, US Postal Service.. the list goes on and on.
    These companies only need a tiny fraction of these along with implementing NAT. The fact is that the reason we’re running out of IPV4 addresses is because the vast majority of them are being wasted. Instead of fixing that very simple problem (demand them back and only give them what they need) you’re trying to implement a huge change that will break almost every network based device in existence along with a significant amount of software. I’m glad you all resigned and the farce is now over – can we have or 20k back please.

    • Bob Smith says:


      You miss the point that at the rate of growth of internet connected devices, a few more IPv4 addresses simply buys a relatively short amount of time, and as the Internet is getting exponentially more complicated as it grows, making the problem harder. NAT isn’t the solution either, as it has issues of its own.

      It’s simply not the case that IPv6 will go away if one sticks their head in the sand. It’s not quite cooked yet, but RIPE 554 is a step forward which will help its adoption.

      I’m sad to see that the government wouldn’t fix their procurements to include v6, which has effectively hamstrung this organisation, or effectively funded promotion of the migration. 20k isn’t even the price of a line-card for a router.

    • James says:

      Bernie, you’re very, very mistaken. While it’s true some organisations are sitting on large chunks of IPv4 addresses, you have no way of knowing how efficiently those addresses are utilised or not. Well not unless you manage ALL of those networks…. It’s also wrong to assume they could make do with a handful of IPv4 addresses and use NAT. Even if this was technically possible, have you any idea what it would cost those organisations to renumber pretty much everything in their network, reconfigure the network infrastructure and migrate everything? This is non-trivial in a large network and even harder if everythiung has to keep working during the migration.

      Redistributing these “unused” addresses won’t buy much time at all. The Internet’s pretty much been chewing through a /8 (16 Million addresses) of IPv4 space for the last 3-4 years. So if those organisations could renumber and re-architect their networks – at great expense to them – we’d only have enough addresses to last for a year or so before we’d have run out again.

      The sad fact is 4 billion IPv4 addresses is simply not enough for a global populatiion of 4 billion (and rising). The number of devices needing to connect to the internet is growing exponentially too: smart phones, RFID tags, smart meters, games consoles, TVs, etc. And no, they can’t always use NAT.

      • james says:

        Whoops! Two corrections above:

        1) When we had spare IPv4, the world was consuming a /8 of space every month.

        There are 256 /8s – roughly 20 years supply. That means we’ve run out of IPv4 space more or less when we expected to run out: ie about 20 years after the Internet became generally popular.

        2) The world population is 7 billion and growing, not 4 billion. It’s too big for IPv4′s 32-bit address space.

    • Steve says:

      There are enormous numbers of wasted Category A IP addresses, that’s just a fact. Actually do an nslookup on things like usps.gov and apple.com – they’re not even using their assigned blocks.

      The real problem of IPv6 imo is that it is pretty dated itself, I remember going on a training course for it back in 1998. It’s very user unfriendly and I’ve never met a network admin yet that liked using it. Yes it does have advantages over IPv4, but I can’t see why both strategies can’t be used, i.e. reclaim the unused addresses as well. If nothing else it would help kill off the “dark net”.

      • James says:

        Steve, no matter how many wasted IPv4 addresses there are, the IPv4 address space simply isn’t big enough. That’s a fact. Even if you could wave a magic wand and redistribute those addresses with perfectly efficient utilisation, there just isn’t enough of them to go around. There are ~7 billion people on this planet and growing. There’s a finite limit of ~4 billion IPv4 addresses. I’m sure you can do the sums for yourself.

        Many large organisations outsource their web sites to hosting companies like Akamai for all sorts of business reasons: huge bandwidth needs, providing location-specific content, server load/scaling, uptime, responsiveness, redundancy, etc. These outsourced web sites have no bearing on the address space the organisations use internally. Apple and USPS appear to have outsourced their web sites to Akamai for some or all of these reasons. It may be an idea to consider the impact Apple’s iCloud services has on the usage of the 16 million addresses in its /8

    • John Curran says:

      Bernie –

      We did encourage organizations to return unused addresses, and had some success (see http://blog.icann.org/2008/02/recovering-ipv4-address-space/), but the fact is that the growth in mobile devices and Internet in more countries means that IPv4 has a very real shelf life.

      The most important thing is to make sure your websites are IPv6 reachable in addition to IPv4. This makes it easier for service providers to deploy IPv6 friendly Internet services.


      John Curran
      President and CEO

  2. Mark says:

    IPv6 is mature, stable and works really well so please stop spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about it breaking networks because it’s simply not true.

  3. Christian de Larrinaga says:

    I’m very sorry to learn this news. After ten years + trying to generate awareness in the UK about IPv6 I was delighted when in 2010 the BIS chipped in to help found an industry body with strong credentials to promote IPv6 adoption.

    It seems the old challenge of the UK government waiting for Industry and Industry waiting for the government hasn’t been resolved. More IP addresses are needed if economic growth is to be secured particularly in digital services to the premises, sensor networks, electronic media and financial services and these addresses will have to be IPv6. IPv4 is effectively exhausted.

    ISOC UK England will continue to prioritise the adoption of v6 in the UK.

  4. Sam says:

    It is a big problem that so many organisations sit on blocks but equally sad is the lack of willing from government procurement measures. Lets hope the network administrators around are future proofing the nations systems. Also the guy who said v6 will break software… Why of why would you ever reference a ip in code??

  5. Ross says:

    IPv6 adoption is inevitable. It’s a pity the UK is going to be playing catch-up.

  6. Tom says:

    Thamks to all at 6uk for highlighting the issue.

    How shortsighted the government has beeh.

    I wonder if regional assemblies in scotland or northern ireland might be more responsive and shame the government into action.
    ….if that doesn’t work then I wluld suggest boris jonson as the next person to approach to try to get him to throw his clout behind this.

    • Nigel Titley says:

      We did actually approach the Scottish regional assembly. They were even less responsive than the UK government.

  7. Bob H says:

    With respect to the members but I think that the lack of involvement of any of the major ISPs is the thing that killed this group. If any of the major telcos had signed up to it then I would have been surprised. If a group doesn’t have market share then how is it supposed to influence the market?

    • Economists call the situation we have here market failure. There is no economic imperative for any ‘major telco’ to drive IPv6 adoption. If anything, they probably have economic incentive to ignore IPv6 for the time being. At least I can’t think of another reason why the UK has fallen so far behind.

      Market failures require government intervention, and all UK business – in the collective – and all UK society benefit when everyone migrates to the modern Internet protocol. We just need a bit of stick and carrot from the country’s leadership.

  8. Melbourne says:

    >wrong to assume they could make do with a handful of IPv4 addresses … >have you any idea what it would cost those organisations to renumber >pretty much everything in their network…

    …Which they are going to have to do anyway, to go to IPV6.

    • James says:

      > …Which they are going to have to do anyway, to go to IPV6.

      Not quite.

      IPv6 can be deployed alongside the existing IPv4 network on the same hardware and networks. No IPv4 kit needs to be renumbered. It continues to work the way it always has.

  9. Andrew Bower says:

    Blaming the government is a bit weak when your online footprint reveals virtually no activity in the 2.5 years of 6uk’s existence. What exactly were you doing all that time?

    • philip says:

      Thanks Andrew for your well informed and balanced contribution. Believe it or not, influence isn’t always exerted by tweeting a lot. Happy to chat further if you feel you have something to offer in this regard.

    • Nigel Titley says:

      Well, just for starters (and this is by no means complete)

      Organised a launch event with Vint Cerf as the keynote speaker including extensive media coverage
      Set up a meeting with Ed Vaizey and representatives of major ISPs to highlight the need for IPv6 involvement by UK industry.
      Given roughly 25 IPv6 background talks to various bodies throughout the UK
      Set up free training courses to give IPv6 background to corporate IT staff
      Spoken to various UK business bodies such as the CBI and IOD in an attempt to reach their members
      Organised press briefings around World IPv6 day and World IPv6 launch
      Made briefing materials available on the organisation web site
      Made representations to the Smart metering initiative, pointing out the advantage of using IPv6 for smart meters (the current proposal to use phone numbers to distinguish meters is plainly unworkable)

      All of this was done without any external finance apart from the initial seed funding and membership fees from our members.

      All directors are volunteers and receive no payment for their services. We have no staff.

      We asked the government for £30k to enable us to engage a PR firm, and run more training courses.

    • Andrew Bower says:

      Glad to hear about these things. I did once ask @6uk but didn’t receive a reply. I completely share you disappointment with the failure of the government to get its own house in order but for all their negative role in this I am not one who buys into the idea that nothing is possible without the government.

      We could do with embarassing incumbent telcos here who have been really unimpressive. A rollout by BT or Virgin Media would have created a very significant amount of interest. I realise what the US government has done but I suspect Verizon and Comcast must have be responsible for the real jump in IPv6 traffic if not the awareness it would have created among wider group of tech-aware people intrigued at the new protocol they’ve been hooked up with.

      • Jim Reid says:

        Andrew, government clearly has a major role to play in IPv6 adoption and ensuring the nation’s Internet infrastructure does not fall behind competitor nations. The contrast between the government attitude in UK and say South Korea or Japan is stark. Even Afghanistan has a national IPv6 strategy. The UK doesn’t.

        I don’t know of any other G8 (or G20?) nation which has shown this level of indifference to something that significantly affects national competitiveness and future economic growth. Without IPv6, the UK will not be able to expand its use of Internet services and technologies to the same extent as other nations. The jobs and other economic benefits which will flow from that greater use of the Internet will happen elsewhere.

        Things may well stagnate. Everyone’s costs will also increase because increasingly desperate measures (kludges) will be needed to spread a dwindling reserve of IPv4 addresses amongst an exponentially increasing number of devices that is already too big for the available IPv4 space. Where are the 50-60 million IP addresses that the national smart metering programme will need?

        Worse, there appears to be no effort to do anything where the government is in a position to have a direct influence. eg Ensuring IPv6 is in all future public sector IT procurements or even having a plan to ensure its public-facing web, DNS and mail servers speak IPv6. These should be no-brainers. Other countries can do that, so why can’t the UK?

        The recent plan to make http://www.gov.uk the one “umbrella” web site for all public access to government web stuff was the golden opportunity do something about introducing IPv6. That open goal was missed and IPv6 is still not part of this multi-million pound project as far as I’m aware.

        Slovenia’s done a remarkable job at getting IPv6 deployed. It’s Go6 initiative succeeded because it enjoyed ministerial support. The minister held regular meetings with interested parties – including the incumbent telcos and ISPs – and asked them all about their IPv6 plans. Pretty soon they all deployed IPv6. It just took was a little ministerial interest to nudge the key movers into taking action. Here, 6UK has asked and been promised meetings with the minister several times. None have taken place.

        To recap, there is a role for government in IPv6 deployment and uptake. Just like there was for them in getting POSIX compliant IT systems back in the 1980s and early 90s. Government procurement decisions then stimulated the market to do the right thing. Everyone ultimately benefited from that. And it’s those POSIX-compliant systems that now underpin the overwhelming majority of the Internet’s key services: web, DNS, email, messaging, VoIP. Where would be be without them and the government efforts 15-20 years ago to nurture those open standards-based platforms?

  10. Mike Irving says:

    Disappointing as this news is, it doesn’t surprise me under this Government. Like we saw with the “EU Cookie Law” earlier this year, there was no coherent voice or decision, leaving many confused.

  11. Roland says:

    >seed funding of £20k from BIS in April 2010

    It would seem that BIS and the UK government weren’t serious about this from the outset (or did you fail to ask for sufficient funds?), also I take it that no further funding was given?
    I’m therefore a little surprised 6UK has survived this long, perhaps whilst being a volunteer-based organisation has helped in this respect it hasn’t helped 6UK to get into the spotlight.

    I say this as one of the founder members of ‘The Networking Centre’ (the UK MAP/TOP/OSI Conformance Test Centre) back in 1985, where we sought and obtained significant amounts of UK and EU funding. However, we were forced to close shop (in 1991) shortly after the government downgraded the role of CCTA and effectively took away a major market for open systems products, so can fully appreciate the emotions the 6UK board members will be experiencing.

    • Philip Sheldrake says:

      Roland, with due respect to BIS, you may recall the country’s purse was effectively empty when the coalition came to power. I couldn’t agree more however that relying on twenty grand and some volunteers to transform the UK’s most critical infrastructure is perhaps expecting too much.

      The counter argument to the empty purse excuse is the government’s high speed rail plans costing many billions. I like a good rail system as much as the next man, but it’s not quite so critical in the 21st Century as Internet infrastructure running on the modern Internet protocol. I fear, however, that our politicians in general have a greater understanding of rail.

      • Jim Reid says:

        The disappointing thing is huge amounts of money are being spent on public sector IT projects. If a teeny slice of that dosh was set aside for funding a Version 2 of 6UK, that spend could pay for itself many times over. Although the public finances are in a dreadful state, there is money available for some infrastructure projects. Sadly a national IPv6 strategy isn’t one of them or isn’t a high enough priority.

        The Department of Work and Pensions has just spent millions on its Universal Jobmatch website. [How a web site can cost millions is beyond me.] Many of the jobs advertised there were for non-existent companies. Other bogus entries included three ‘international couriers’ for CosaNostra Holdings, and a ‘target elimination specialist’ for MI6. I’m sure that taxpayer money could and should have been better spent.


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