Australian broadband ISP Internode claims to have become the first in the country to give national direct access to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) as part of its standard service.
Internode operates a native IPv6 network across Australia and its international points of presence in the US and Japan by running its routers in "dual stack" mode for concurrent IPv4 and IPv6 services to its customers.
Internode managing director Simon Hackett said the decision to offer public access to IPv6 was part of "future-proofing" its customers' networks.
"The Internet is approaching an address crunch point in the next few years," Hackett said.
"The current IPv4 address space is simply running out of IP numbers, possibly as soon as 2011. Internode has chosen to invest in deploying IPv6 technology throughout its network now to give its customers the maximum amount of time to transition their own networks to the new address scheme."
Internode's backbone network now runs IPv6 natively, which allows it to connect with many peers and upstream network sources via the protocol.
Internode customers can access IPv6 by native Ethernet access, available for customers with Ethernet/fibre connected (including co-located or cross-connected networks), or with tunnel broker access, which is available to all Internode customers (including ADSL broadband) nationally.
Hackett said Internode was also working on mechanisms to allow ADSL and other layer 2 customers to obtain native dual-stack access.
"In the future, all Internode ADSL customers will have native IPv6 access as part of their normal ADSL service," he said. "Today, using our tunnel broker service, all interested customers nationally can start gaining experience with IPv6 right now."
Ipv6, with the capacity for billions more IP addresses, has been touted as the way to overcome a looming shortage of the current IPv4 addresses as the world approaches the ultimate exhaustion of IPv4 address space.
Internode is now listed on the SixXS IPv6 deployment and tunnel broker portal as a regional transit provider, which can provide a full BGP table, but doesn't have its own intercontinental links over which it transports the data.
Hackett said IPv6 is essential for the Internet to continue growing.
"We're about to use up our first four billion IPv4 addresses, so IPv6 gives us a vast new swathe of online real estate," he said.
Internode's Ipv6 portal is online at http://ipv6.internode.on.net.