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IPv6 is a next-generation version of the IP system that forms the basic framework of communication on the Internet. It offers several advantages over the current IPv4, including a larger address space and better security. However IPv6 largely requires new infrastructure and software and so has yet to gain popularity.
The access point, JPNAP6, began a trial service on 28 June with connections to the networks of Internet Initiative Japan (IIJ) and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone affiliates Open Computer Network (OCN) and NTT/Verio. Both IIJ and NTT are major shareholders in Internet Multifeed alongside 18 other minor shareholders. The company was established in 1997 with the aim of linking major content providers directly with Internet network providers and already runs an IPv4 Internet exchange point called JPNAP.
In addition to the IIJ and NTT connections, Internet Multifeed says it expects several major service providers, including Fujitsu affiliate Nifty and NEC affiliate Biglobe to link to the access point, which is offering free connections until the trial service ends, currently scheduled for March 2003.
For IIJ, JPNAP6 is the sixth IPv6 Internet exchange to which it is connected. The others are the non-profit NSPIXP6 in Tokyo, NY6IX and 6IIX-NY in New York and PAIX Palo Alto and 6TAP, both in Palo Alto, California.
Most of the traffic over the network at present comes from researchers and companies exploring ways to use IPv6 rather than commercial traffic, said Junko Higasa, a spokeswoman for IIJ. She said the company has between 100 and 200 customers of its IPv6 service but the number is growing and appeal of the service slowly broadening.
"A year ago, it was only corporations that used the service but thanks to new applications for individuals, those types of users have also joined the trial service," she said.