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IPv6 adoption – time running out for Africa

IPv6 adoption – time running out for Africa

When it comes to standards governing Internet Protocol or that which regulates the format of data transmitted through the internet (inter-networking), there is little time left before Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) overtakes the outgoing IPv4. The warning to Africa from experts is to hurry up and adopt.

The same experts point out that it is the immediate future of the internet that is at stake.

"Without IPv6 there is no future of the Internet, as it can't grow," says Edward Lawrence, director of business development at pan-African connectivity services provider Workonline Communication. "There will come a point where IPv4 runs out in Africa in the same way it has in other regions, and we have a unique opportunity to learn from these regions and even ensure that we are ahead of the curb again, by benefiting from the lessons learnt. This does however require African networks to get stuck in."

Lawrence says that in the US and Asia Pacific, for example, one cannot launch an IPv4 ISP. "Rather, you get a very small allocation of IPv4 space, but your network is built on IPv6 due to the exhaustion of larger IPv4 address blocks."

In Africa, while the uptake of IPv6 is increasing, it is not happening at a fast enough rate, the company claims.

"We have noticed that a number of people do not know or understand IPv6, which is contributing to the issue," Lawrence explains.

However, a number of major Network Service Providers (NSPs) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in South Africa are adopting the standard, he says.

At the same time Lawrence believes there is a great need for education and awareness in order to encourage higher levels of adoption. Organisations like AFRINIC (The Internet Numbers Registry for Africa) have a major role to play in applying its training programmes and continuing with investment he says.

AMX launch

In March the fibre-based network services provider launched the Africa Media Exchange (AMX), which the company said would "revolutionise the African media industry."

AMX, launched from within Teraco's neutral colocation data centre, allows broadcasters, content distribution networks (CDNs) and content producers to plug in and exchange information and content.

"AMX allows those who join the exchange to contribute content and exchange it with others who wish to receive it, transforming it into the format of their choice in the process," the company stated.

Lawrence says while the media industry doesn't always move at a fast pace or trust easily, there has been a lot of interest and there are proof-of-concepts with interested companies in the works.

"The South African media industry has not evolved as quickly as the media industry in other parts of the world, and the AMX is offering the opportunity for the industry to catch up, if you will. It also presents further advantages for the industry, such as cost reductions and exposure to the most apt global partners for African entities," he adds.

The main goal is to change in the media workflow says Lawrence. "At the moment, the workflow is very linear – content is not stored nor is it transmitted to multiple locations. The idea is to change that so the content can be stored, transmitted to multiple parties simultaneously."

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