Singapore has one of the highest penetration of IPv6 users in the world, according to APNIC. We are ranked third, after Belgium and Switzerland, with an estimated 10.7% of our Internet user population on IPv6. This is quite an achievement, considering that the general populace in Singapore don’t even quite seem to know what IPv6 is all about.
We supposedly have an estimated 368344 IPv6 users out of 3438265 total Internet users. I don’t know exactly how these figures are arrived at. While I don’t doubt the data presented by APNIC, I’m sure there’s more to those numbers that we’re not seeing.
Nevertheless, it is evident that IPv6 is quite alive here in Singapore. I think this is in no small part thanks to the efforts of IDA. Our Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are mandated through regulation by IDA to provide Singapore users with access to IPv6 content. To date, most of the ISPs are already offering production IPv6 access to their residential broadband users.
|Service Provider||IPv6 Availability|
|Mobile One||Native dual stack|
|SingTel||Tunneled 6rd relay|
|StarHub||Native dual stack|
|SuperInternet||Native dual stack|
|Viewqwest||Native dual stack|
If you want IPv6, don’t go with My Republic. SingTel’s implementation via 6rd tunnel is not so ideal either. The best solution is to go with a native IPv4/6 dual stack setup.
The network may have IPv6, but the ground level awareness of IPv6 is still pretty bad. It’s not just about the clueless service provider staff, but surprisingly, also apparently the sadly misinformed techie end-users.
Let’s talk about the end-users first. One of the reasons that prompted my writing this post has got to do with the misinformation amongst end-users. Here, I’m talking about users who do know a little about IPv6 so that they can come to be misinformed. You see, some of them believe that IPv6 is just an early experimental research project, or that the service is merely in a test phase. IDA, in their eagerness to focus on preparing for network readiness, has probably overlooked the aspect of end-user education.
On the side of the service providers, the problem is with their lower level support staff. They don’t know what IPv6 is, nor are they aware that the services they are selling or supporting does in fact offer IPv6 connectivity.
For example, when I complained about broken IPv6 on my StarHub fibre broadband in the StarHub Community Forum, I was told by a StarHub technical support staff that StarHub did not offer IPv6 service. It is listed in StarHub’s website, but he didn’t know about it.
If you’ve read my other blog posts, or followed my Facebook updates, you’ll hear me complaining about the frequent IPv6 accessibility problems I experience on StarHub. It seems that there’s no service monitoring at all, perhaps because they don’t actually care about IPv6 themselves. The other possibility, however unlikely it may sound, is that StarHub does network monitoring by waiting for customers to report problems, and there aren’t enough customers noticing about IPv6 to complain about problems.
Sometimes I feel that I’m the only IPv6 customer. But according to APNIC, there are 368343 other people like me (i.e. IPv6 users).
Getting started on IPv6 is really easy these days. All modern operating systems already support IPv6. Operating systems are auto-configured, so there’s actually nothing you need to do. They are ready to go as soon as the network they’re on supports IPv6.
The status of IPv6 support in consumer broadband routers is a mixed bag. However, it is likely that most new products already have IPv6 support built-in, although probably not enabled by default. The D-Link DVG-N5402SP wireless broadband router provided by StarHub to their fibre broadband customers, for example, don’t have IPv6 enabled. You’ll just need to get into the admin page, turn it on, and you’re all set up.
Let’s address some of the questions surrounding IPv6.
Q: Is IPv6 faster than IPv4?
For this answer, let’s focus on the packets themselves. IPv6 does have a longer header than IPv4, primarily because IPv6 addresses are 4 times longer than IPv4 addresses. The size difference, however, is negligible compared with the traffic they carry. On the other hand, IPv6 benefits from a simplified header that could expedite packet processing, including the lack of IP-level checksum. However, given modern hardware which mostly processes packet headers in ASC chips, the difference is again negligible. I wouldn’t count on one or the other to be faster simply because of the packet level differences.
Q: Is it faster to access a website by IPv4 or IPv6?
It should not make any difference, as long as service providers use the same networks to transit IPv6 traffic as they do for IPv4 traffic. That should be the steady state, or the normal state of affairs anyway. For now, before ISPs reach that state, it’s possible that some of their IPv6 traffic will transit differently from IPv4. Still, that doesn’t mean one will be faster than the other.
Q: So what’s the benefit of IPv6?
Let’s address this question from the end-users’ point of view. Surprisingly, not a whole lot. The biggest benefit of IPv6 is about the vastly expanded address range, which allows so many more devices to be directly addressable on the Internet. Many end-users probably don’t care about it right now. They just want the Internet, and it is their ISP’s job to give them the Internet. Even when end-users appreciate the technical benefits of IPv6, at the end of the day, they still depend on their ISP, as well as the web content or service they wish to access, to support IPv6.
However, prepping yourself for IPv6 makes you future-proof and ready for new generation of services. IPv6 is not a passing fad that we don’t know will or will not stay. The world needs IPv6, and the world is in the process of transitioning to IPv6. It has never been a question of if, but when.