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Remarks of Assistant Secretary Strickling at NTIA's IPv6 Workshop

Remarks by Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information
NTIA's IPv6 Workshop
Washington, D.C.
September 28, 2010

- As Prepared for Delivery -

Thank you for joining us this morning, and a special thank you to John Curran and the America Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) for their assistance in pulling together this event. 

One of the primary missions of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the agency I run, is to develop and build consensus around policy approaches to realize the President’s vision of an Internet that is open for innovation and social progress, both domestically and globally.  A key part of that mission is for NTIA to convene stakeholders to discuss critical technology issues, bring these matters to the public’s attention, and work together to tackle challenging problems.  That is exactly what brings us together this morning -- in this case to discuss issues related to the adoption and deployment of Internet Protocol Version Six or IPv6. 

IP addresses underpin and connect broadband and IP-based network infrastructures. Without IP addresses we could not attach computers and smartphones to the Internet, and we could not route traffic to and from those devices. Without an adequate supply of the addresses, we could not design cloud computing networks or the smart grid. As we move to a world where everything can be networked to everything else and all the innovation that will result, we need plenty of IP addresses.

When the Internet Protocol was first developed in the early 1970’s, few of the scientists and the technologists who were involved at the creation could have predicted what this would mean for network development and the incredible innovation it would spur.  Version 4, or IPv4, was developed in the very early 80’s through the work of the technical wizards who formed the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).   At that time, who would have expected that the 4.3 billion addresses defined by the IPv4 address space would not be enough for future networks?  Who could have forecasted the explosive growth of the Internet and the need for billions of devices to be attached to these networks?  Well, many of those same technical experts – being rather clever people - did begin to worry about the size of the IPv4 address-space size. They began to work on the “next generation,” this new generation of protocol known as IPv6. And it’s good they did because we are running out of IPv4 addresses.  IPv4 supports 4 billion addresses. IPv6 supports 340 trillion trillion trillion possible addresses – and it represents a new generation of technology for network growth and development and innovation.

So what does this all actually mean?  Well for consumers not much right now. They can continue to use existing devices and IPv4 addresses, even as industry and government deploy and integrate IPv6. But for industry in particular – smart-phone and router manufactures, transport providers, Internet service providers, and chief information and technology officers throughout the industry - action is needed.  Today we want to impress upon everyone that this is an urgent issue, but one that can be successfully handled with good planning.  And we want to encourage companies to share best practices on IPv6 uptake for all businesses to benefit, particularly for small- and medium-sized enterprises.

With that in mind, today we will have two panels of experts – one from industry and one from the federal government – to discuss these issues.

I am looking forward to a very stimulating and interactive discussion on the importance of the adoption and deployment of IPv6 and how we in government can work in partnership with industry and other stakeholders to ensure that the technology that underpins the Internet continues to support innovation and growth. 

With that, I would like, now, to turn these proceedings over to one of those very talented experts that are here with us today, Danny McPherson,Vice President for Research & Development at VeriSign, who will provide us with an overview of the IP address space and set the scene for our discussions, today.

Thank you.