Verizon mandates IPv6 support for next-gen cell phones

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Cell phone carriers have seen a huge growth in wireless data usage. The iPhone is selling like hotcakes, and its users generate large amounts of traffic. Not surprisingly, as cellular providers deploy faster network technologies, users generate even more data. Here's data from Verizon:

Customers' demand for more, faster connectivity is pressuring cell carriers to accelerate their timelines for deploying next generation cellular technologies (the so-called "4G" technologies). One of the most promising of these technologies is LTE, Long Term Evolution. LTE will provide much more bandwidth than current 3G cellular system.

Aside from speed, LTE makes a significant change to cellular networks: Voice is now an IP service. With LTE, your handset is a voice over IP (VoIP) device. This eliminates the distinction between the "phone part" of your smartphone (voice calls, SMS, voicemail), and the "Internet part" (email, web, games, etc). In other words, your phone will need an IP address all the time, even just to receive voice calls.

Independently, the number of cellular subscribers is increasing rapdily. According to the United Nations, more than 40% of the world population has a cell phone:

One research company predicts there will be 5.2 billion cellular subscribers, worldwide, by 2011. Another firm estimates 2 billion new cellular subscribers by 2013. If even a small fraction of these are using 4G, e.g. IP-based, communication, it will place substantial strain on IPv4 address reserves.

The problem, of course, is that we're running out of IPv4 addresses. The IANA pool will most likely be depleted by the end of 2010. This has led many people to wonder if LTE deployments will require IPv6. Now we have an answer: Yes.

Verizon has posted specs for any LTE device that will be permitted on its LTE network. IPv6 support is mandated. IPv4 is optional. That's quite a statement, since IPv4 traffic currently dominates the Internet.

A few relevant quotes from Verizon's spec:

"The device shall support IPv6. The device may support IPv4. IPv6 and IPv4 support shall be per the 3GPP Release 8 Specifications (March 2009)". (section 3.2.4.1)

and

"The device shall be assigned an IPv6 address whenever it attaches to the LTE network." (section 3.2.4.2)

IPv4 support appears optional: "If the device supports IPv4, then the device shall be able to support simultaneous IPv6 and IPv4 sessions." (section 3.2.4.4)

Verizon appears to be trying to conserve IPv4 addresses by disallowing long-term address leases: "If the device supports IPv4, the device shall request an IPv4 address if an application using the LTE bearer requests a data connection using an IPv4 address. Once the application is closed, the IPv4 address shall be released by the device". (section 3.2.4.3)

I'm curious how this will affect handset manufacturers. Windows Mobile and Symbian (used in Nokia phones) already support IPv6. Google is working on IPv6 support in Android. The iPhone and Blackberry don't currently support IPv6. I'm curious if version 3.0 of the iPhone OS will add IPv6 support.

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Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Verizon mandates IPv6 support for next-gen cell phones.

TrackBack URL for this entry: https://blogs.psu.edu/mt4/mt-tb.cgi/69604

» Verizon mandates IPv6 support for next-gen cell phones from Fix6 - IPv6 News and info

Verizon has posted specs for any LTE device that will be permitted on its LTE network. IPv6 support is mandated. IPv4 is optional. That’s quite a statement, since IPv4 traffic currently dominates the Internet. LT, Long Term Evolution, will provid... Read More

» T-Mobile is pushing IPv6. Hard. from Living with IPv6

T-Mobile USA has launched an IPv6 web site -- http://ipv6.t-mobile.com/. Only the front page (including images and CSS) is reachable over IPv6; most of the links are broken or redirect to the IPv4-only site. Clearly, it's still a work-in-progress. This... Read More

» IPv6 live on Verizon's LTE network from Living with IPv6

Verizon has deployed IPv6 on their LTE network. This is a screenshot of an LTE-attached netbook. You can clearly see the IPv6 address: (credit to Paul's Random Crap for noticing this). Back in 2009, I reported that Verizon mandated IPv6... Read More

8 Comments

Jim Fleming said:

Will they be able to support the FREE 64-bit addressing from IPv3 ?

Bob Van Zant said:

My iPhone running the OS 3.0 beta still doesn't support IPv6.

Nice post.That is great IPv6 support for next-gen cell phones.Thanks

xor said:

...

Will it be possible to call IPv6-addresses directly, or will there always be a telephone number mapping to the IPv6 numbers?

From the users point of view, calling IPv6 addresses (or even an entry in some DNS-server that maps to an IPv6 address) would be awesome. It would really blur the distinction between telephone networks and computer networks.

However, I guess that the tele companies are not that happy about just giving their business model away like that. With more handhelds running linux as well as other free and open software, this will however probably play out to the users advantage :)

Have a nice day

shop said:

Well that is fantastic news for Verizon customers but bad news for iPhone/AT&T customers (which I happen to be one). AT&T's 3G network sucks - it lacks sufficient coverage and is not fast. I wish AT&T would follow verizon's lead on upgrading their networks!

When will we see this IPv6 in full roll out?

alex said:

I heard we're running out of IPv4 addresses for 5 years but it's not happening yet. maybe nov or dec? I wondering how many ips are left

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