On 28 August 2020, the Expert Committee for the Large-scale Deployment of IPv6 held the 2020 (third) China IPv6 Development Forum in Beijing. The purpose of the forum was to accelerate the large-scale deployment of next generation Internet technologies based on the Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6), as well as to promote the divulgation of IPv6 applications and the coordinated development of IPv6 technology, industry, network, and applications.

According to academician Dr. Wu Henquan, a keynote speaker of the forum, by July 2020 more than 90% of LTE users in China were allocated IPv6 addresses, while the number of active IPv6 users reached 362 million – corresponding to approximately 40% of total Chinese Internet users. The total IPv6 data flow on the three major telecommunication companies LTE core network reached 4372Gbps, accounting to 10% of the total. In addition, the top 100 commercial websites and applications in China can be accessed through IPv6.

Currently, the world internet based on IPv4 is facing serious problems like exhausted network addresses and low-quality services. IPv6, on the other hand, can provide sufficient network addresses and vast innovative opportunities. IPv6 is the globally recognised solution for the next generation of commercial internet applications. In this context, China has been very proactive in promoting the large-scale deployment of IPv6, releasing in recent years various key policy documents, including:

  • The Action Initiative to Promote the Large-scale Deployment of the Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6), released in 2017 by the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council. The document outlined a series of objectives to be reached by IPv6 by the end of 2020 in China, including: (i) number of active IPv6 users to exceed 500 million and accounting to more than 50% of all Internet users; (ii) new network addresses to abandon private IPv4 addresses; and (iii) accelerate the deployment of IPv6 in a series of priority areas, such as: China’s top 100 commercial websites and applications; governments outside the network website system or above the municipal level; radio and television media website systems above the city and prefecture level; large internet databases; the top ten content distribution networks; all cloud products of the top ten cloud service platforms; 5G networks and services; as well as new mobile and fixed terminals, and international entrances and exits.
  • The Notice on Launching the Special Operation for IPv6 Network Readiness in 2019, released by MIIT in April 2019. It outlined a detailed operation for a comprehensive IPv6 transformation of backbone networks, metropolitan area networks, and access networks.
  • The Notice on Carrying out the Special operation to Improve IPv6 End-to-End Connectivity in 2020, released by MIIT in March 2020. Taking as core objective the improvement of the user experience of IPv6 networks and the achievement of application requirements, the document outlined three milestones for large-scale IPv6 deployment in 2020, namely to significantly improve network performance, active connections, and data flow proportions.

The Chinese government is steadily promoting the comprehensive replacement of IPv4 with IPv6, and cultivating new IPv6 application ecosystems. However, judging from the data released during the 2020 (third) China IPv6 Development Forum, it emerges that there still is a gap between the current IPv6 deployment level and the expected objectives.

Finally, it is noteworthy that during the forum, the Expert Committee for the Large-scale Deployment of IPv6 also issued the white paper of China IPv6 Development status, and hosted two thematic parallel sessions: IPv6+ Industry Salon, and IPv6 and New Development in Education and Research.