Why aren't cell providers using IPv6?

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zenten
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Why aren't cell providers using IPv6?

Postby zenten » Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:13 pm UTC

Note: I couldn't think of a more appropriate forum than Religious Wars for this, even though it's not quite a good fit. Mods, please move it if there is a more appropriate one.


OK, so why don't cell providers use IPv6? They're adding new kinds of networks with new kinds of phones all the time, so the cost of adding something new can't be it. It would significantly reduce the complexity and overhead of their network, and would have a significant impact on user performance. They all lock down their phones so heavily and restrict bandwidth usage so much already that I can't see it being a concern that their users will all start torrenting over the network or something. So what gives?

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Re: Why aren't cell providers using IPv6?

Postby P13808 » Sat Aug 17, 2013 3:51 pm UTC

http://packetpushers.net/the-reason-enterprises-arent-deploying-ipv6/

It would seem the reason is simply a lack of drive.

zenten
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Re: Why aren't cell providers using IPv6?

Postby zenten » Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:00 pm UTC

But that doesn't address what I'm talking about. I get why businesses and homes aren't clamoring to switch to IPv6 for regular Internet connections, as the benefit is outweighed by the cost of switching.

What I don't get is why cellphone providers specifically aren't switching, since the benefit is so much greater there, and the cost is basically the same as they pay every time they add a new kind of network.

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Re: Why aren't cell providers using IPv6?

Postby P13808 » Mon Aug 19, 2013 2:46 am UTC

A lack of customer demand can go a verylong way.

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Lenoxus
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Re: Why aren't cell providers using IPv6?

Postby Lenoxus » Tue Sep 10, 2013 12:30 am UTC

Is it possible there's some kind of challenge in a phone being hybrid v6-v4, which it would have to be since people using their phones on wi-fi would need v4? The chicken-egg problem may be afoot here.

That said, there has been [url="https://support.t-mobile.com/thread/27171?start=0&tstart=0"]some implementation[/url].

zenten
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Re: Why aren't cell providers using IPv6?

Postby zenten » Tue Sep 10, 2013 12:35 am UTC

Lenoxus wrote:Is it possible there's some kind of challenge in a phone being hybrid v6-v4, which it would have to be since people using their phones on wi-fi would need v4? The chicken-egg problem may be afoot here.


Not as far as I know. There is for a server, but connecting to IPv4 servers using an IPv6 client has the same issues as using a local IPv4 address to access IPv4 servers.

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Aperfectring
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Re: Why aren't cell providers using IPv6?

Postby Aperfectring » Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:03 pm UTC

I actually work on some of the core network components used in cell phone networks. Primarily the reason for not switching is that computing power has not caught up with the amount of extra processing required for IPv6 packets. There is a ton of infrastructure and processing which goes on behind the scenes of a cell phone call or cell data usage. Tons of load balancing and other protocols are very compute intensive, and needing to account for the extra weight of IPv6 (not just the larger addresses) makes that even harder.

The equipment which is powerful enough to handle IPv6 is really only just in the last couple years starting to be deployed. If you lived in a developing area, you might already be seeing IPv6, because the whole of the infrastructure is likely to be new enough. However, if you live in an area which had 3G and it is being upgraded to 4G/LTE, then there is a lot of existing equipment which was already existing that hasn't been upgraded, and won't be for some time (if it ain't broke, don't fix it). Until all of that equipment is upgraded, they need to stick to IPv4.

Operators don't care about the handsets, because those change up quickly enough that you can assume they will be more up to date than their equipment. Their equipment is expensive and typically has had a long life. One of the reasons that they are struggling with data, and why data is so expensive on the cell networks, is that because it is tied with the phone system, they have to provide very high reliability/uptimes or face stiff fines. This isn't as important for the data side, but is extremely important for the phone side. Unfortunately, the way the protocols are set up, there isn't really any distinction between the two, so high reliability for one means high reliability for all.

This doesn't mean that you won't drop a call, or that you will definitely be able to access the internet. It means that the reason you dropped a call or are unable to access the internet is NOT on the cell side, it is that your handset cannot connect to the tower, or the nearby tower is over capacity, and refusing your connection.

Edit: I will note that *my* cell phone *does* have an IPv6 public IP address. Whether it uses that internally to the cell towers/equipment there I don't know for sure, but it does use one for the public Internet.
Edit2: I just checked on the handset and it has both IPv6 and IPv4 addresses.
Odds are I did well on my probability exam.

zenten
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Re: Why aren't cell providers using IPv6?

Postby zenten » Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:24 pm UTC

Thanks Aperfectring, that explained it rather well. I thought for some reason that when a provider sets up 4G or the like they would be using entirely new equipment, or at least for the equipment that functions at the IP layer. But if that's not the case that makes a lot more sense.

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Aperfectring
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Re: Why aren't cell providers using IPv6?

Postby Aperfectring » Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:32 pm UTC

zenten wrote:Thanks Aperfectring, that explained it rather well. I thought for some reason that when a provider sets up 4G or the like they would be using entirely new equipment, or at least for the equipment that functions at the IP layer. But if that's not the case that makes a lot more sense.


Verizon has had to install lots of new equipment because they are switching to GSM for 4G (from CDMA). Other carriers haven't had to install as much new equipment, and much of their new equipment was designed to work directly with their 3G equipment to save them money. Until they replace that older equipment (it will happen sometime), they will still have the compatibility and processing issues which will largely keep them on IPv4.

Finally: Keep using that cell data! It keeps me in a job!
Odds are I did well on my probability exam.

zenten
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Re: Why aren't cell providers using IPv6?

Postby zenten » Fri Sep 27, 2013 5:42 pm UTC

Aperfectring wrote:Finally: Keep using that cell data! It keeps me in a job!


Well, I'm in Canada, so it probably doesn't, but since I use about 10 gigs a month it is keeping someone in a job ;)

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Aperfectring
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Re: Why aren't cell providers using IPv6?

Postby Aperfectring » Fri Sep 27, 2013 5:46 pm UTC

zenten wrote:
Aperfectring wrote:Finally: Keep using that cell data! It keeps me in a job!


Well, I'm in Canada, so it probably doesn't, but since I use about 10 gigs a month it is keeping someone in a job ;)

Actually, it does. I don't work for an operator. I work for a company which sells equipment (mostly through other companies) to operators. Most cell providers just integrate "standard" products together to build their network. There are some in-house developed pieces, especially when dealing with legacy systems, but their core network is typically products they buy from TEMs (telecom equipment manufacturers).
Odds are I did well on my probability exam.

zenten
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Re: Why aren't cell providers using IPv6?

Postby zenten » Fri Sep 27, 2013 5:59 pm UTC

Aperfectring wrote:
zenten wrote:
Aperfectring wrote:Finally: Keep using that cell data! It keeps me in a job!


Well, I'm in Canada, so it probably doesn't, but since I use about 10 gigs a month it is keeping someone in a job ;)

Actually, it does. I don't work for an operator. I work for a company which sells equipment (mostly through other companies) to operators. Most cell providers just integrate "standard" products together to build their network. There are some in-house developed pieces, especially when dealing with legacy systems, but their core network is typically products they buy from TEMs (telecom equipment manufacturers).


Cool. Do you guys sell to Wind Mobile in Canada? They're a new provider here, and that's who I use.

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Aperfectring
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Re: Why aren't cell providers using IPv6?

Postby Aperfectring » Fri Sep 27, 2013 6:03 pm UTC

zenten wrote:Cool. Do you guys sell to Wind Mobile in Canada? They're a new provider here, and that's who I use.


My company sells to the TEMs, and not typically directly to mobile providers. However, if they are a new provider, then they are probably buying a lot of standard stuff from TEMs, so there's a good chance that they are using some of my company's products.
Odds are I did well on my probability exam.


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