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Israel’s IP Problem

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Israel has not followed the rest of the world in moving from the IPv4 protocol to the new IPv6 protocol. While this may seem like a minor issue, it has major ramifications for Israel. I’ll go over how Israel got to this point and what challenges still lay ahead for the country to successfully make the move to IPv6.

What is an IP?

Every device that can establish a connection to the internet has an IP(Internet Protocol) address. This address is used to identify that specific device. The current most widely used standard is called IPv4, which can hold a 32 bit value, allowing for a total amount of 2³² = 4,294,967,296 addresses. For example, your localhost IP address for your PC is configured to be 127.0.0.1. While this may seem like an absurd number of addresses to grasp, think of the fact that the protocol was first introduced in 1983, when we didn’t have smartphones nor IOT devices. It quickly became apparent that IPv4 would not accommodate for the sheer amount of devices needing an IP address and so IPv6 was created, which allows for a 128 bit value.

Israel is not on the green side of things

Back To The Future

As can be seen from the image above (Courtesy of 6lab), Israel’s IPv6 deployment rate is about 25%, which stands in stark contrast to other western countries(Europe and Northern America). These nations have an IPv6 deployment rate of at least 48%, which is almost double the deployment rate in Israel.

While switching to the IPv6 protocol is a costly effort, it is something a country must adhere to. Because if it does not comply to the trend, there are plenty of shortcomings not too far in the near future. Since there is a finite amount of IP addresses, we (in Israel) are getting to a point where it is impossible to grant devices a corresponding IP. And as every student who has ever taken a course in Economics can tell you, when there is little supply and high demand, prices for domains go up.

And true to form, due to the shortage of domains in the IPv4 protocol, the ISPs (Internet Service Providers) are having a sort of inner auctioning to clients as they handle their inner reservoir of depleting IPv4 IPs.

Even more troubling is the fact that in an article published at the beginning of 2008, this fact was brought up with Israeli ISPs and they were not worried at all. In this article, even though Israel’s Internet Association(ISOC-il) has urged ISPs to start switching, they promised to be ready when the time comes to switch to IPv6.

Fast forward to Monday, 5.11.18. Israel’s Ministry of Communications CEO, Nati Cohen, went public, warning that Israel is in a crisis of domains. In it, he stated that since the RIPE Network Coordinates Center is no longer issuing IPv4 IPs to Israel, there is a dire need to switch to the IPV6 protocol. Left to their own devices (so to speak), ISPs failed to heed the calls of the Ministry of Communications and Israel’s Internet Association.

Photo by Evan Dennis on Unsplash

What Now?

Since the economy is moving to a state of more and more IOT devices, Israel will not have the ability to allow these products to exist. If you don’t have any IP addresses to give out, these devices cannot operate. To make the move to IPv6, the whole chain relating to IPs needs to make the move. This involves infrastructure providers, ISPs, content websites, applications and the end units. Mr.Cohen has held a hearing outlining a plan to make the switch, stating that by the summer of 2019, they hope to be at a point where any production or importing of a device needing an IP, will be in IPv6 protocol. Furthermore, he exclaimed that by the end of 2020, 40% of traffic will be based on IPv6 as well.

It is important to note that the first link in this chain are the ISPs

After this hearing, which took place on the 16.10.2018, it was required that the ISPs respond till the 5.11.18. In par with Israeli bureaucracy, ISPs have been granted a delay till the end of November.

What will happen then? It’s anyone’s guess.

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