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1. IPv6: a Strategic Need for Australia

Two major international market opportunities are emerging related to IPv6-based next-generation Internet capabilities. In North Asia, plans for major civilian rollout of IPv6-based technologies are already in place, including e-business and consumer electronics applications. In North America and Australia, major commitments have been made for the development of a new generation of IPv6-based infrastructure that will support the information requirements of defence operations and extend to interactions with defence supply industries.

In North Asia, plans have been progressing for implementation of IPv6 for civilian applications. Three major trading partners of Australia have taken a strong interest in IPv6 implementation: South Korea, Japan and China. The South Korean IT839 policy, issued by the Ministry of Information and Communications, mandates civilian implementation of IPv6 by 2010 as a building block in the development of u-Korea (ubiquitous information society).

In Japan, the WIDE Project and the IPv6 Promotion Council have been supporting IPv6 demonstration activities since 1992, with Prime Ministerial endorsement from 2000. Key aspects of IPv6 infrastructure were expected to be operational by 2006. China has been working to significantly upgrade its ICT capabilities in the lead-up to the 2008 Olympic Games, and there has been a strong effort around IPv6 with the development of four new research and education networks.

The defence community in Australia and overseas has been discussing potential for building a more powerful information capability for its operations. Much of this discussion has focused on a concept of 'network-centric warfare'. In August 2003, the Australian Defence Department participated an industry briefing on the topic of 'Integrated Planning within Defence - Now and in the Future'. This seminar emphasised the defence interest in longer term planning, dialogue with industry and the capacity to overcome lack of interoperability of systems. At the first Australian IPv6 Summit in November 2005, the Australian Defence Department announced a date of 2013 for implementation of IPv6 based technologies.

The USA Department of Defense has also developed an interest in interoperability. In June 2003, it circulated an unclassified memo identifying 2008 as the date for all equipment purchased to be IPv6 enabled. In December 2004, further discussion of this topic occurred at the USA IPv6 Summit held in Washington DC (www.usipv6.com). At this event, all four USA military services provided implementation plans for IPv6 by 2008. This event continued the approach of the Australian session of seeking unclassified discussions with industry for development of new technologies.

Discussions of network-centric warfare concepts have continued in Australia. For instance, the conference 'Meeting the Challenges of Warfare in the Information Age' was held on November 24 - 25 2004, at the Australian Defence Force Academy organised by IQPC Australia.

Australian businesses need to have access to effective IPv6 infrastructure in order to maintain interoperability with our major international trading and strategic partners, including the important defence supply sector. In particular, this project will focus on enabling rapid adoption of IPv6 based technologies for early-adopter businesses to ensure maximum interoperability with our major trading partners.

2. Project Aims

The IPv6 for e-Business project conducted collaborative industry-based activities to accelerate the adoption of IPv6-based business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce solutions across a wide range of industry sectors, especially to build the capacity of SMEs to form clusters and to allow early adopter Australian businesses to participate advantageously in international trade and supply chains. IPv6 offers business advantages such as:
  • Massively increased address space for increased scale of networking, particularly of devices and potentially linked to RFID technologies
  • Extension of Internet interoperable capabilities, particularly linked to mobile devices such as phones
  • Compliance with government mandates, particularly in the US, Europe, Japan, China and Korea, to implement IPv6
  • Ease of implementation through autoconfiguration
  • Security ease of implementation at the packet layer
  • Direct addressing of all devices, without the need for NAT complexity
  • Increased potential for remote sensing
The IPv6 for e-Business project built business tools, promoted awareness, and assessed the potential for test-bed applications to demonstrate the effectiveness of IPv6. In particular, it provided:
  • A map of software, services and technologies taking advantage of IPv6
  • Business models, tools and checklists for enabling business
  • An Easy Access Device to allow SMEs to use IPv6 with minimal cofiguration
  • Information resources for building awareness of IPv6
  • Development of the underpinning infrastructure to support IPv6 use
In terms of improving industry awareness it built upon the foundation created by the First Australian IPv6 Summit in 2005, supported by the Security and Business Environment Branch of DCITA. Specific activities included: showcasing of rollout at Australian IPv6 Summit 2006, a website, pamphlet and other documents; and business and e-commerce Seminars.

The project has fostered the awareness and strategic takeup of IPv6 based e-commerce solutions, within and across industry sectors, to deliver sustainable economy-wide returns and contribute to increased competitiveness.

3. Industry Advantages

This project built capacity for Australian businesses, particularly SMEs to participate in e-business and link to international supply chains based on IPv6 next generation Internet technologies. In particular, it focussed on enabling rapid adoption of IPv6 based technologies for early-adopter businesses to ensure maximum interoperability with our major trading partners.

IPv6 has the potential to deliver a breakthrough in scale, extensive interoperability and ease of use of Internet technology, with significant business advantages, offering improvements over the current generation of Internet technologies.

IPv6 will enable key areas of expansion in the number of internet connected devices, promoting innovation and industry competititveness in the following areas:
  • Potential to incorporate interoperability between IPv6 enabled networks and RFID technologies
  • Potential explosion of Internet-enabled mobile phones requiring address space
  • Future potential of broadband over power lines with many electrical appliances online through the power wiring in buildings
  • Growth of WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) enabled devices
  • Voice and video over Internet protocol (VoIP)
  • Capacity to deal with Windows technology capabilities, including Windows Vista for desktops and Mobile 5.0 platform which gives mobile devices the ability to run desktop applications as a mobile hand-held PC
This project has developed business models and tools for calculating return on investment of IPv6 deployment. The project has demonstrated the way in which these value points will benefit businesses, particularly SMEs, through easier and more effective B2B value chain transactions. B2B applications using IPv6 will enable multiple links that support increased efficiencies in business.

In the same way that manufacturing approaches to just-in-time manufacture have benefited from increased linkages over the Internet, we have looked at the potential to enable multiple business links in a stable and secure Internet environment.

The opportunities that IPv6 offers have not yet been taken up by Australian business, perhaps due to perceived complexity or lack of knowledge of the benefits. This project has provided the essential understanding and greater ease of implementation to assist Australian businesses to take advantage of improved efficiencies based on IPv6.

4. Consortium Contributions

The project consortium has engaged the industry linkages provided by BuildersNet (BNET) and the Australian Defence Information and Electronic Systems Association (ADIESA) (part of AEEMA, the Australian Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers Association) with the deep technical and operational understanding of the Internet Society of Australia (ISOC-AU) and the au Domain Administration (auDA). The project has actively involved each of the host organisations, and in turn, their industry associates.

ISOC-AU has been involved in linking to international developments, providing technical understanding through its membership, and project oversight and management. ISOC-AU organisational members cover a broad range of major Internet industry organisations, as well as many SMEs involved in Internet information, service and provision industries.

auDA has been involved in developing specific naming and addressing concepts as well as oversight of the development of infrastructure support for IPv6 usage and access to a test bed within the IPv6-ready .au registry. auDA is the regulatory body for the flourishing Australian domain name registration industry, and supervises all of the relevant DNS software and hardware infrastructure.

AEEMA is the peak industry body representing Australia's electronics and electrical technology manufacturing industries, and was involved in financial oversight of the project. Its forum, ADIESA has provided sponsored workshops for small to medium enterprises involved in the defence industry and supplier companies. (AEEMA is now part of the Australian Industry Group.)

BNET provided access for project trials to a broad range of sectorial representatives. BNET are specialists in electronic delivery of innovative information tools to the construction industry, especially in the areas of legal compliance, project management, and occupational health and safety.

Dr Kate Lance
Internet Society of Australia

The IPv6 for e-Business project is supported by the Australian Government through the Information Technology Online (ITOL) Program of the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts.