Will China’s single stack IPv6 plans give it an unassailable tech lead?

China’s authorities are pushing to speed up nationwide IPv6 rollout and have a single-stack network running by 2023. At the moment, it is the only country advocating for a single-stack IPv6 network. Could this be a much-needed stimulus for other countries to boost their IPv6 efforts?

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China has opened up a new front in its ongoing cold war with the US, and signalled its intent to be the world’s pre-eminent technology superpower. This time, the unlikely battleground is next-gen internet protocol, IPv6, which Beijing wants to support its entire national internet infrastructure in less than a decade. Experts believe the move will enable the country to expand its leadership in 5G and IoT across a range of industries.

The question is, will it spur other countries, particularly the US, to follow suit?

What’s going on?

IPv6 has been around for some time. It was created back in 1998 to head-off concerns that the world was running out of IP address space. While IPv4 uses a 32-bit scheme to support around four billion devices, the advent of the IoT and explosion in smartphone use meant a new system was needed. IPv6 uses a 128-bit address scheme to support an almost unlimited (hundreds and hundreds of trillions) number. However, adoption has been slow despite the many benefits of the new protocol because technologies like network address translation (NAT) effectively extended the lifespan of IPv4. The latest stats suggest only around a third of Google users are on IPv6.

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