Government agencies should make migration to IPv6 a priority, according to Dr. Paul Twomey, CEO and president of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
"Many departments and agencies I have spoken to suggest that migration is something they will consider in their next three-year planning cycle," he said, before urging them to instead make the move a more immediate priority to lead the IT community into the new standard.
"China has announced it will move to IPv6 before the Beijing Olympics," he said. Australian governments should therefore be mindful of compatibiity with other nations and also take the lead so that Australian businesses and other organisations are also led to IPv6.
In a wide-ranging speech, Twomey said security and IPv6 are important considerations for the future, along with increased availability of broadband. "In Korea they now define broadband as allowing the download of a movie in under three minutes," he said. Australia must catch up to that definition and start to develop policy for what to do with broadband, rather than just debating how it gets built.
The urgency of that debate, he said, is broadband's potential to revolutionise many processes.
Dr. Twomey envisioned systems of remote sensors which, for example, detect water levels in real time and therefore let governmetns make decisions based on last week's data instead of what he called "19th century bureaucratic" processes that today hamper decision making at all levels.
The move to IPv6 will be key to enabling such networks and such changes, he said, as its provision of "340 trillion, trillion, trillion" IP addresses vastly outstrips IPv4's 4.2 billion addresses.
Even the mighty new namespace, however, may be tested by some of the plans Twomey has encountered.
"I have spoken to car makers that plan to place 10 or 15 IP-addressed devices in each car," he says. "The future will see a machine-to-machine internet with billions of connections."