It took about twenty-three years, a couple of IPv6 days, the exhaustion of most of the IPv4 address pools available at Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), and the increase of prices in IPv4 address market, but finally, it looks like IPv6 made it and met one important threshold in November 2020 – 100k IPv6 prefixes are now currently announced on the Internet!  

In this blog, we take a quick look at the history of IPv6 adoption thanks to BGP route collectors deployed by the University of Oregon’s Route Views project that are collecting routing data since the early 2000s. IPv6 routing information is inferred from data collected in the route-views6 collector, while the IPv4 routing information we use as a comparison is inferred from route-views2 collector. Both collectors are collecting BGP data via BGP multihop, hosting thus data coming from ASes all over the world. 

Looking at the evolution of the number of IPv6 subnets announced in the wild, it is interesting to see how many different events impacted the adoption of IPv6 in the past. It is possible to see the outcome of World IPv6 day on January 12th, 2011 and the following World IPv6 launch day on June 6th, 2012. Both events were sponsored by the Internet Society and aimed at motivating organizations to deploy IPv6 services to prepare them for the upcoming IPv4 address exhaustion. 

RIRs started to run out of new addresses just a few months after that. APNIC was the first hitting the last /8 in April 2011, followed by RIPE in September 2012, LACNIC in October 2013, ARIN in April 2014, and finally AFRINIC in March 2017. After that, each RIR started assigning addresses with stricter criteria and were able to delay the inevitable by several years. Until recently, most of the RIRs are assigning back only recovered and returned addresses with long waiting lists. 

The effect of all these events can be better understood by looking at the percentage of ASes announcing at least one IPv6 subnet (image above) over the total ASes announced on the Internet. The biggest boost to IPv6 adoption was between 2010 and 2011 when the percentage of ASes reached double-digits for the first time. Since then, the growth has been steady but continuous. The increased use of IPv6 is also confirmed by different organizations monitoring IPv6 adoption, such as Akamai, Cisco, Facebook, and Google. It is particularly interesting to see that about 30-35% of users currently accessing Facebook and Google are on IPv6. Will 2020 be the charm to boost IPv6 adoption all over the world? 

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