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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

World IPV6 Day 2011: Nigerians yearn for IPV6 Task Force

AS the World Internet Protocol version Six (IPV6) Day holds today, Wednesday, June 8, globally, participants at the first-ever Nigeria IPV6 Roundtable, held last weekend, called on the Federal Government to establish an IPV6 Task Force for the country to hasten the adaption and deployment.

Some of the participants who spoke at the event organized by DigitalSENSE Africa (DSA) in collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to commemorate the World IPV6 Day in Nigeria, included the Executive Director, Operations, DSA, Mrs. Nkemdilim Nweke, Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah and chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, Director-General of NITDA and President, Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA), Mrs. Mary Uduma among others.

Welcoming participants to the event to commemorate World IPV6 Day in Nigeria tagged “IPV6-Join the Players,” Mrs. Nweke called on FG to establish a Task Force through its agencies to take immediate proactive actions that will ensure that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as organisations in Nigeria to prepare their services for IPV6 migration.

This, she also said would encourage greater research and development investment in activities around the future internet, and increase support for the private sector participation.

She described awareness creation as key to the early adoption of the second internet, stressing that this is vital in order to avert being behind the times as far as IPV6 adoption and deployment are concerned.

Mrs. Nweke explained, that the aim of the roundtable was to provide a platform for all stakeholders in the country to share IPV6 knowledge and experience, chart a roadmap for early transition to IPV6 as IPV4 addresses currently in use run out.

“Its also to promote IPV6 enabled products and services in addition to providing a platform for networking,” she said, adding that the commemoration in Nigeria was in line with the calls by the Internet Society (ISOC) for greater participation on the World IPV6 Day, which is marked annually on June 8 (today) with a test-flight due to last for only 24 hours.

She said, this entails that most Internet-related service providers would offer their services on IPV6 platform today, June 8 to drum support for IPV6 migration.

Some of those enlisted for the test-flight, she said, includes Yahoo, Google, Facebook to name a few out of the over 200 IT companies participating in the exercise.

She disclosed that as at the end of March 2011, Nigeria has 16 allottees of IPV6, but none is offering internet-related services on this platform in the country.

EVC of NCC, Dr. Juwah in his keynote address presented by the Director, New Media and Information Security, Dr. Sylvanus Ehikioya, assured of the works on regulatory framework on the IPV6 platform as efforts have commenced to ensure that there is a regulation to support the deployment in the country and in enlightening the ICT consumer, which is evidence in this collaboration with DSA for this roundtable.

He enjoined stakeholders in the industry, and mostly the Internet community and services providers to join hands with NCC in ensuring that a viable policy on IPV6 is enthroned for the nation through offering vital contributions at public consultants like such as this event.

Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, declared at the roundtable the readiness of the telecom operators in the country to migrate to IPV6.

“Other than the challenges of our operating environment, Nigeria’s telecom industry is ready and fully prepared for the migration from IPV4 to IPV6. I am delighted to inform the audience today that operators have deployed and are deploying world most modern technologies and it has prepared us well ahead towards significant technology migration as we now face in the world today. Therefore, we do not foresee any impact on internet networks and users in the course of this migration,” he assured.

Although he noted that nobody is sure how much the transition could cost or how long it will take, but assured that it would be done to the highest standards in order for the web to function as it does today.

He also said that the foregoing underscores the need for government to further look into how to assist ailing service providers with ‘bail out’ interventions.

“Internet is not just for the big players, the last mile access for the internet is a solution best offered and provided by smaller enterprises to challenge the legacy operators and we hope that in the interest of competition and survival of our industry that Government will look critically at ways and means of assisting the current not so strong players to survive and give live to better competition in the Broadband internet space as we now prepare for the migration from IPV4 to IPV 6,” Adebayo said.

Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NiTDA), Prof. Cleopas Angaye in a joint paper with the Vice President, Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA), Mr. Sunday Folayan, who were represented by the Executive Director, Marketing and Business Development at Skannet Limited, Mr. Jide Ogunmekun, noted that with the IPv4 at its end of life, the only real solution is a total migration to IPv6.

And to accelerate the deployment of IPv6 in Nigeria, NITDA is tinkering with a quick roundup of what has been done elsewhere in the world and localizing same for Nigeria beginning with proposition to set up an IPv6 task force to the government.

The task force, they said, would develop a national policy on IPv6 adoption, which should cover the Federal government and the critical infrastructure industry sectors.

This initiative, they foresee as leading to an increased government effort to migrate to Ipv6, spur interest on IPv6 within the country and help its understanding as well as adopting the new protocol.

They emphasised that a group of concerned Information Technology (IT) experts across the continent of Africa who have canvassed for the setting up of Internet Protocol version Six (IPv6) Task Force in the various countries of Africa.

“NITDA is very concerned that Nigeria does not at this time have a task force on IPv6 and insists that Nigeria must not be left behind,” part of paper read.

They said it is imperative that an IPv6 Task Force be set up and should consist of a wide range of stakeholders, outlining the likely means of communication for the proposed Task force to include website, mailing list, resource portal, online discussion forum to name a few.

“There must be a study to understand the scope of the problem associated with the lack of, or slow adoption of the IPV6 protocol, viz-a-viz Nigeria. We must identify the key players in Nigeria and the continent, such as AfriNIC, IXPN and ISOC, to further deepen our involvement in the transition to IPv6,” they stated.

Nigeria, they further said, needs to determine the size of traffic for both IPv4 and IPv6, accompanied with assessment of the national readiness for Ipv6, which must include infrastructure, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) and Local Internet Registrars (LIRs), Size of the Internet Consumer market.

“We need to know the current depth of the IPv6 penetration in Nigeria, comprising know-how, equipment, and regulation” they said, in addition to raising awareness on the exhaustion of IPv4 and impact of IPv6 on the proliferation of the Internet and adoption of broadband in the country among others.

Stating the imperative of IPV6 to the public sector, especially in Nigeria, the managing director and chief executive officer, Galaxy Backbone Plc, Mr. Gerald Ilukwe who was represented at the occasion by the Head, Communications, Mr. Franklyn Ginger-Eke listed the implications of being blacklisted for not migrating to IPV6, declaring that the time to plan for IPV6 starts now.

According to him, Nigeria may lose an average of 20 per cent of the current Internet Protocol (IP) addresses in the public sector, coupled with the poor network of security infrastructure.

Additionally, lack of prompt migration could affect the business future now that IPV4 address pool is depleted.

For the president of NiRA, Mrs. Mary Uduma in a paper entitled ‘NiRA’s view on IPV6’ and read by a member of the NIRA Executive Board, Mr. Muhammed Rudman said that actions have started on its part as the association though not a Local Internet Registry (LIR), thus it does not assign IP address to its customers.

NIRA, Mrs. Uduma revealed, has applied for IPV6 address block from the African Network Information Center (AfriNIC), even as NIRA is one of the secondary Domain Name Systems (DNS) on IPv6 which has a local Anycast.

She also said that NIRA is working towards IPv6 awareness campaign to all the registrars, so that Nigerian sites could be reachable via IPv6.

As said by her, the good news is that Nigeria has moved from the 6th position in 2009 to the 3rd in 2010, based on the number of allocated IPv6 within the AfriNIC region, although the bad news is that IPV6 is not yet visible in the Internet, especially from this part of the world.

Remmy Nweke:
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