The Internet's biggest content providers -- including Yahoo, Facebook, and Google -- are reporting a significant decline in their measurements of "IPv6 brokenness," a term that describes end users with misconfigured systems that can't access websites supporting the next-generation Internet protocol called IPv6.
Worries about IPv6 brokenness have been a major stumbling block for content providers wanting to deploy IPv6, an emerging standard that solves the looming address shortage with the Internet's current standard known as IPv4.
[ InfoWorld's Matt Prigge provides an IPv6 checklist. ]
Some of the Internet's most popular websites shared details about their latest IPv6 brokenness measurements at a meeting of the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) held here this week.
DETAILS: Getting at the real truth about IPv6
Experts say the IPv6 brokenness problem is lessening for two reasons: Browsers like Google's Chrome have enabled a new feature called "fast fallback,'' which identifies users suffering from IPv6 brokenness and automatically reconfigures their access to IPv4.
Also, popular websites, such as Google, Facebook, and Yahoo have engaged in a massive outreach program to users that they feared would suffer from IPv6 brokenness, offering them automated tools to identify and fix the problem. This outreach program coincided with World IPv6 Day, a 24-hour trial of IPv6 that was held on June 8.
"Yes, we've pretty much fixed the IPv6 brokenness problem," said IETF Chairman Russ Housley. "It's because of browsers with the new 'fast fix' and the outreach surrounding World IPv6 Day."
"IPv6 brokenness is a declining concern generally, as host and browsers implementations deploy fixes," agreed Christopher Palmer, an engineer with Microsoft's Windows Networking team. He added that Microsoft "received five calls about IPv6 brokenness on World IPv6 Day, and four of them weren't real."
Users suffering from IPv6 brokenness experience slowdowns or have trouble connecting to IPv6-enabled websites because they have misconfigured or misbehaving network equipment, primarily in their home networks. Corporate users also can experience IPv6 brokenness because of faulty firewall settings. For end users with IPv6 brokenness, websites that support IPv6 and IPv4 simultaneously in what's called a dual-stack configuration appear to be suffering from an outage.
Prior to World IPv6 Day, the Internet Society estimated that as many as 0.05 percent of Internet users would suffer from IPv6 brokenness during that 24-hour trial. While that percentage may sound miniscule, it actually represents 1 million of the Internet's estimated 2 billion users.
Yahoo, in particular, worried publicly about the threat of IPv6 brokenness. But Yahoo's worries appear to be for naught. Igor Gashinsky, a principal architect with Yahoo, said the company's measurements of IPv6 brokenness have declined threefold in the last 21 months, from 0.078 percent to 0.022 percent.
"During World IPv6 Day, our breakage stats remained the same at 0.022 percent," Gashinsky said.