IPv6 at the 2008 Olympics

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IPv6 will play several important roles at the upcoming 2008 Olympics in Beijing. China is hoping to use the Olympics as a way to showcase their next generation Internet project (CNGI).

There will be an extensive system of IPv6-enabled network-attached cameras deployed throughout Beijing for security. There will also be an IPv6-enabled smart building system. Additionally, there is an IPv6 version of the 2008 Olympics website at http://ipv6.beijing2008.cn/. Note that this site is IPv6-only. It's fantastic that there is more "content for normal people" on the IPv6 internet.

It's unfortunate that there has to be a seperate IPv6 URL for the site. In an ideal world, www.beijing2008.cn would have both A (IPv4) and AAAA (IPv6) records in DNS. But it's understandable why they chose to make a seperate site (just as Google did with ipv6.google.com). Many NAT routers don't handle AAAA queries properly, some web browsers don't fall back to IPv4 if IPv6 fails, and the Olympics' distributed web hosting provider (Akamai) doesn't support IPv6 yet.

The lack of support by Akamai is startling. I tried ping'ing the IPv4 and IPv6 sites from AS3999. Latency over IPv6 is about 270 ms. Over IPv4, it's less than 5 ms. The stark difference is because our upstream provider, the Three Rivers Optical Exchance (3ROX), has a local Akamai cache, so the IPv4 traffic doesn't even have to leave Pennsylvania. The IPv6 traffic, by contrast, has to cross North America to Seattle, go across the Pacific Ocean to Korea, and finally into China.

Interestingly, only the website is IPv6-enabled. The DNS and mail servers for beijing2008.cn are IPv4-only. Many sites are cautious about IPv6 due to fear of breaking web or mail services. Since DNS is considered "safe," most organizations start by IPv6-enabling their DNS servers. Only later will they adopt IPv6 for mail and web services. There was a nice presentation on this topic at last month's RIPE 56 meeting in Berlin:

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