MoD Has £38.5m Of IPv4 Addresses As Government IPv6 Apathy Continues

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FoI requests show government is as bad as private sector in IPv6 adoption

The Ministry of Defence (MOD), one of just two departments that claims to be IPv6 ready, is sitting on £38.5m worth of IPv4 addresses according to the results of Freedom of Information (FoI) requests made to all 24 government departments.

Half replied to the requests, but only the MoD and Department of Health said they had any IPv6 addresses and only the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Department for Transport are considering adopting IPv6 in the next six months.

An IPv4 address currently has a market value of £7 and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has sold 2.6 million in the past six months – despite having no IPv6 plans in place.


government parliament big ben public sector clouds bird © Samot ShutterstockIPv4 addresses have been used since the start of the Internet, but all 4.3 billion have now been used. ISPs still have a number of these addresses to assign to users, but stocks will eventually expire, meaning most providers have plans to move to IPv6 in the near future.

IPv6, which offers infinite addresses, technology has actually been around for 17 years, but the transition has been slow due to a lack of compatible hardware, indifference among governments and a lack of desire among ISPs to purchase networking equipment capable of supporting both IPv4 and IPv6.

Infoblox, which submitted the FoI requests, said the confusion at Whitehall is indicative of the UK as a whole, which has far lower IPv6 adoption rates than other countries. Just 1.13 percent of the UK is IPV6 capable compared to 28.19 percent of the US and 43.55 percent of Belgium.

“Organisations which haven’t prepared for IPv6 could soon find their customers and users experiencing functionality issues on their websites,” said Tom Coffeen, chief IPv6 evangalist at Infoblox. “Internally, it may also pose problems to companies laying the foundations for cloud architecture and the Internet of Things, both of which will rely on IPv6 infrastructure.”

Government confusion

The government is no exception to this, according to Infoblox, which says a lack of an IPv6 strategy could mean many people are unable to access public services, many of which are moving online as part of Westminster’s digitisation strategy.

Just 12 of the 24 departments responded to the requests however: the Home Office, the Department for Education, the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, HM Treasury, the Ministry of Justice, UK Export Finance, the Department for Transport, the Department of Health and the Ministry of Defence.

“As the government continues to affirm its commitment to the digitisation of services, with tax discs and Universal Credit applications among many services to be managed online, it is essential that government ensures all online services are accessible to everyone in the UK. As more web traffic arrives over IPv6, it’s very likely the government will have users trying to access sites from an IPv6 client which could stop them experiencing a site’s full functionality, potentially reducing access to services for some users.”

BT has confirmed it will start migrating users next year, while Sky is trialling IPv6 with one million staff and customers.

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