China's first IPv6 network enters operation

China's first network based on IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) formally entered operation on Saturday, according to the China Education and Research Network Information Center (CERNIC).

Called CERNET2 (China Education and Research Network 2), the IPv6-based network links 25 universities in 20 cities across China at speeds up to 10Gbps (gigabits per second), CERNIC said in a brief statement posted on its Web site.

The announcement that CERNET2 is now operational came at a ceremony held in Beijing to commemorate the tenth anniversary of CERNET, an IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4)-based network launched in 1994 to connect Chinese universities and research institutes to the Internet.

IPv6 networks offer a far greater number of IP addresses than can be offered by IPv4 networks, which are limited to around 4 billion addresses. With most of these addresses controlled by U.S.-based companies, Asian companies and governments, including Japan, South Korea and China, have been working to roll out IPv6-based networks to resolve this imbalance and avoid a shortage of addresses.

China's National Development Reform Commission (NDRC) has set aside 1.4 billion renminbi (US$169 million) for the development of IPv6-based networks, the official China Daily newspaper reported Monday. Roughly half of that budget has been allocated for CERNET2-related projects with the rest distributed among five Chinese telecommunications operators, it said.

In addition to NDRC funding, the 25 universities now connected to CERNET2 each chipped in 5 million renminbi to fund construction of the network, it reported.

While CERNET2 currently offers speeds up to 10Gbps, the network is capable of offering faster speeds, according to China Daily. Network tests connected on the CERNET2 link between Beijing and the nearby city of Tianjin reached speeds of 40G bps, it said.

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