NAIROBI, November 18 – Experts in Information Technology sector are now urging the government to ensure that any packet-switching equipment that is imported into the country is compatible with the new addressing system dubbed Internet Protocol version six (IPv6).
Kenya Network Information Centre (KENIC) Administrative Manager Vincent Ngundi said this would ensure that the country is not used as a dumping ground for the near-exhausted protocol called IPv4 which has been used since the advent of internet and which can only handle four billion addresses.
“This is one of the recommendations that the working group on research and policy development has forwarded to the policy makers to ensure that they put in place controls that protect the country from being flooded with redundant equipment,” he said adding that the group is one part of the IPv6 taskforce, whose objective is to oversee nationwide transition to the new system.
Mr Ngundi explained to Capital Business that IPv6 provides flexibility in allocating addresses and routing traffic and it will therefore provide the continued growth of internet penetration which in Kenya stands at about 2.7 million.
He said some local Internet Service Providers and the Communication Commission of Kenya have already adopted the new protocol, which can provide billions of internet protocol addresses for every user, although more organisations need to be encouraged to migrate.
“KENIC is also working with universities to see whether they can start using the new protocol and we encouraging others to join in as well,” he disclosed.
Towards this end, he said, the taskforce was in the process of setting up a ‘test bed’ where different players in the industry can try out the new technology before they can implement it in their firms.
However, he predicted an increase in the adoption of the system saying the demand for IP resources was going up owing to deeper internet penetration through smart phones and computers and the expected arrival of the undersea fibre optic cables which would bring down connectivity costs.
Mr Ngundi also sought to dispel fears that IPv4 would be completely phased-out saying there was likelihood that it could be in use for a long time to come, as some systems that were developed a long time ago can only use the old protocol.
“These legacy systems which run critical services can only understand the old protocol and thus can’t be easily discarded. So what the engineers of the new system did was to ensure that the two protocols can run concurrently,” he explained adding that the developers also took into account the challenges of IP4 thus ensuring that IPv6 quality is enhanced.