Malaysia is expertise centre for new Internet standard, but local telcos still lagging

KUALA LUMPUR, 27 July 2018: 

Malaysia has become a key player in the new Internet standard IPv6, following a cooperation agreement inked last month between Malaysia University of Science and Technology (MUST) and IoT Expertise Centre of the International  Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The aim of this collaboration is to assist all UN/ITU 192 member countries – by supporting a smooth and well managed transition from IPv4 (Internet protocol version 4) to IPv6 as well as the Internet of Things (IoT).

IPv6, which became a draft standard in December 1998 and confirmed on 14 July 2017, addresses the existing issue of too few Internet addresses available under the IPv4 standard – a problem anticipated since the 1980s and compounded by IoT, where each device needs its own IP address.

This lack of IP address is already acute today – with each home already having at least three or more mobile devices plus other Internet-linked appliances from TVs to even fridges and microwave ovens!

To address the limit of IPv4 (with four groups of three digits separated by fullstops, eg: 202.101.110.103), IPv6 has eight groups of four hexadecimal digits with the groups being separated by colons (eg: 2001:0db8:0000:0042:0000:8a2e:0370:7334).

While IPv6 will overcome many of the limitations faced with the Internet today, resulting from almost everyone having to share IPv4 addresses, it also poses a big issue for migration to the new Internet standard – as both are incompatible.

Hence telcos and Internet-capable devices have to be able to automatically and seamlessly switch between IPv4 and IPv6 connectivity – with IPv6 given priority. And that’s where many telcos have failed to upgrade their software systems, making it difficult for many who want to use IPv6 connectivity easily.

This was among the main issues raised during a special forum organised by Persatuan IPV6 Malaysia and Adasta Network Sdn Bhd this week – which had as a panellist Dr Latif Ladid, founder and president of The Global IPV6 Forum.

Latiff was shocked to hear how local telcos are still opting to have IPv6 addresses automatically recycled frequently – in the same way IPv4 is managed to overcome availability issues. Due to IPv6 addresses likely to be sufficient till 2050, each device can have individual IPv6 addresses for life.

“This shows telcos still haven’t changed their mindsets and are continuing old commercial habits.” He explained how telcos can charge high amounts for dedicated IPv4 addresses due to their limited availability.

Latiff also noted authorities have been a little hesitant in allowing each device to have fixed IPv6 addresses as this effectively allows unrestricted sharing of Internet content – bypassing any censorship rules.

While this isn’t a major issue in Malaysia, he said IPv6 addresses also means it is possible to identify Internet misuse right down to the individual user – avoiding wrongful arrests due to confusion arising from the sharing of IPv4 addresses today.

As it stands now, Malaysia is already third in Asia for IPv6 adoption – after India and Japan. said Professor Sureswaran Ramadas of Adasta Network, who’s also emeritus chair of The Global IPV6 Forum Education.

“With IPV6 embracement, Malaysia can be propelled into a top-5 nation globally or in the Asia Pacific region, hence competing internationally using ICT through increased productivity and sustainability.”