Charter is committed to providing you the best Internet experience. As the Internet evolves, so do our services. Along with the industry, we are making the transition to IPv6.
IPv6 is a next-generation version (version 6) of the Internet Protocol, which is the "language" used by devices to communicate over the Internet and over most private networks.
The current version of IP, IPv4, has the capability to provide a unique address to approximately 4.3 billion devices on the Internet. After being in use for almost 40 years the IPv4 address space has been almost entirely allocated, and the Internet Protocol version 6 will replace it.
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Free Self Test Site
Charter provides a free self-test that allows you to see if your computer or network device is IPv6 enabled. Using the device you would like to test is fast, secure and automatic.
We're ready so you are ready
Charter is first deploying IPv6 protocol with a small number of Charter Business customers. We've been preparing for this change for several years. Most customers will not need to take any action for IPv6, because Charter has planned to add IPv6 seamlessly to its network. To accomplish this seamless upgrade, we have worked carefully and consistently and over time, building the foundation for this change. We've conducted an extensive campaign of testing that enabled us to identify and fix issues sooner rather than later and to get it right.
Why a new Internet protocol is happening
Pv6 replaces the current Ipv4 Internet Protocol, which has been in use since 1981. One thing that IPv4 specifies is the unique IP address of an Internet-connected device. These IP addresses look something like this: 18.104.22.168. With the explosion of Internet-enabled devices, including mobile netbooks, tablets and smartphones, as well as developing nations' fast-adoption to the Internet, IPv4 will not be able to supply the world's need for addresses. In North America, these addresses are expected to be exhausted sometime in the next few years. IPv6 addresses are 128-bit in size and are formatted like this:
The new format provides an exponentially larger number of possible IP addresses
What a Charter customer can expect
As Ipv6 integration takes place, customers should not notice a change in their Internet experience. Our preparatory work has involved internal skills development, significant technology investment, close collaboration with technology partners, technology trials, and enhancements to our installation, operations and support processes.
Preparing for IPv6
Charter's national backbone and regional networks supports IPv6 today. Internet transit and peering connections between other Internet service and content providers are in place.
Charter uses a "Dual Stack" implementation. This means that IPv4 and IPv6 will run concurrently for our IPv6-enabled customers at the network level. Cable providers chose this preferred approach to minimize customer impact (see CableLabs IPv6). While IPv4 cannot support the growing address needs of the world, it is not going away immediately.
What is Charter still working on to be IPv6 ready. Charter is an active participant in Internet standards organizations and industry forums such as CableLabs.
Charter has successfully enabled IPv6 on its foundation infrastructure delivering IPv6 connectivity to its "headends". This prepares the way for the final push to provide IPv6 access to our customers' homes and businesses.
We have an extensive IPv6 certification program for Charter-provided customer equipment, working hand-in-hand with our vendors, to validate that their IPv6 functionality is working properly within our network, to Charter's exacting standards.
As new applications that exploit IPv6 capabilities come to market, we continue to look for new services that this protocol can bring to our end-users and to improve the network we supply.
What customers should do to prepare. Charter's systematic approach to incorporating IPv6 into the Charter network means that our customers will not need to do anything specific to continue to enjoy their existing Charter services. Charter's plans will enable you to continue to access the Internet and your email without any change in your experience.
Connectivity to IPv4
We are ensuring that all Internet connections through the Charter network are capable of reaching both IPv4 and IPv6 content, and that our end users have access to both.
Every device that communicates over a network must have an address. Much like letters and packages transported by the postal service, data packets transported over networks must have the address of the packet's destination and the address of the device that originated the packet (a "return address").
All of the addresses of IPv4, the current Internet Protocol, have been assigned and are nearing 100% usage. The importance of implementing IPv6 is that this newer version of IP has a vastly larger number of addresses – far more than enough to serve all IP networking needs for the foreseeable future. IPv6 is, therefore, vital to the continued growth of existing IP networks and the creation of new IP networks.
IPv4 and IPv6 are not directly interoperable. An IPv4-only device cannot communicate with an IPv6-only device without the help of a Network Address Translator that translates between IPv4 and IPv6 (NAT64).
The easiest way to allow a device to communicate over either IPv4 or IPv6 is to assign to it both an IPv4 address and an IPv6 address: called dual stacking. The device can then "speak" either protocol, depending upon either the type of address DNS gives it for a destination or the type of protocol used by another device sending it packets to which it must respond.
If an IPv6-only device needs to speak to another IPv6-only device but some or all of the network between the devices is IPv4-only (or vice-versa, two IPv4-only devices that must traverse an IPv6-only network segment), there are a variety of tunneling mechanisms that can be used. The difference between a tunnel and a translator is that while a translator changes a packet's header from one protocol type to another, a tunnel encapsulates the packet – including its header – behind a header of another type.
Tunnels can be either manually configured or automatically configured. Examples of manual tunnels are MPLS, GRE, and IP-in-IP. Examples of automatic tunnels are 6rd, 6to4, Teredo, ISATAP, and tunnel brokers. The decision to use a tunneling technology, and which technology to use, depends on your specific network and the specific problem you are trying to solve.
It does seem that the transition to IPv6 would have been easier if the protocol could support IPv4. However, it can be assumed that IPv6 will eventually replace IPv4 completely (no one can yet predict when this will happen). If backwards compatibility had been included in IPv6, the protocol would be permanently saddled with a meaningless bit of complexity after IPv4 is decommissioned. The better solution is to use separate, interim interoperability technologies that can be more easily discontinued when they are no longer needed.
There is no IPv6 "compelling application" that will drive the adoption of IPv6. The only compelling driver for the protocol is the larger address space, allowing the Internet use to continue growing, new private networks to be built, and new network services to be created.
Advantages of IPv6
While the enormous address space is the primary reason most network operators are motivated to adopt IPv6, there are other advantages that are likely to show benefits in the future. These include:
- Better multicast capabilities
- A more flexible, extensible header architecture
- The potential for more granular Class of Service (CoS)
- The potential for better network mobility
- Better peer-to-peer capabilities
IPv4 Address Depletion
Network systems will continue working if the public IPv4 address pool is completely depleted. In fact, some networks can continue to grow using private IPv4 addresses and private IPv4 to public IPv4 network address translation (NAT44), if they already have sufficient public IPv4 addresses. Use of IPv6 will begin in order to continue growth in several l arenas, such as:
- Internet service providers
- Broadband service providers
- New commercial, government, or academic networks
- Networks in developing countries
IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses, unlike IPv4 which uses 32-bit addresses. Because IP addresses are binary numbers, the way to calculate the total number of available addresses is to raise 2 to the power of the number of address bits.
Thus IPv4 has:
232 = 4.29 billion addresses
2128 = 3.4 x 1038 addresses
That's 340 undecillion (36 zeros) addresses. There are many analogies available to describe the size of this number – for example, there are 6.67 x 1027 IPv6 addresses for every square meter of the planet Earth – but the point is that the number of IPv6 addresses is astronomically greater than the number of IPv4 addresses.
Removal of IPv4
No one can yet predict when, or even if, IPv4 will no longer be used globally. Most transition plans include steps to insure IPv4/IPv6 coexistence for the foreseeable future. It can only be assumed that IPv4 will oddtually disappear from most networks as IPv6 becomes the predominant version of IP.
There are no plans for another version of IP. Planning for IPv6 began almost two decades ago, and only after the revelation of concrete data showing that IPv4 could not sustain the rate of growth forecast for the Internet. Given the capacities built into IPv6, it is doubtful that a new version of IP will be required in our lifetimes.
IPv6 has the same inherent security as IPv4.
Version number 5 was assigned to an experimental protocol family called Internet Stream Protocol (ST). ST was proposed in 1979, after IPv4 and before IPv6, hence the version number separating them.
ST was intended primarily to support packetized voice networks. Although never publicly deployed, it included several concepts that were later adopted by Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), and Voice over IP (VoIP).
Charter recognizes that IPv6 is an essential technology for ensuring the growth of the Internet. We also view it as a promising avenue for future innovation in networking and networked technologies. Finally, we understand that many of our customers will require IPv6 connectivity – either private or to the public Internet – and we are dedicated to supporting those needs.
We are currently testing IPv6 and deploying it in our network. Availability to our customers will be incremental, with our first priority being an assurance that no disruption or risks are posed to our customers' services. Beginning with field trials this year, IPv6 connectivity will be announced as it becomes available in your service area. We will support IPv6 in parallel with IPv4, and our network will transport either protocol version.
You will need to check with your computer manufacture to determine if your computer will support IPv6.
IPv6 support in mobile handsets and USB "dongle" is still in its early stages, but is progressing. As a few examples, Android 2.1 and iPhone iOS 4.0 both support IPv6, as do Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7 and Symbian, LTE-based USB dongles may support IPv6, but you should check with your individual provider.
You will need to check with your operating system manufacturer to determine if they support IPv6.
Most modern desktop, server, and laptop operating systems support IPv6, although a few have limitations and some systems require you to enable IPv6 rather than supporting IPv6 "out of the box."
In addition to your end systems, many of your router and security operating systems will require IPv6 support. Major vendors such as Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks, and Alcatel/Lucent have long supported IPv6, but it is important that you verify with each of your router and security vendors not just IPv6 support but also specific IPv6 functionality for specific devices used in your network.
Preparing for IPv6
Inventory your devices and contact your equipment manufacturers to determine compatibility for IPv6. Visit the IPv6 test site(s)
Charter IPv6 Trials
Charter is currently running two trial programs
6RD Open Trial
We have made available a Public 6rd Border Relay. If you are interested in participating in our early trials and own a device that supports 6RD use this configuration information to begin experiencing the Next Generation Internet:
- 6rd Prefix = 2602:100::/32
- Border Relay Address = 22.214.171.124
- 6rd prefix length = 32
- IPv4 mask length = 0
- Primary DNS Address = 2607:f428:1::5353:1
- Secondary DNS Address = 2607:f428:2::5353:1
- Charter Business Fiber Ethernet IPv6 Trial
Disclaimer: The information contained on this page is intended to be informative but is not all-inclusive. It provides a high level view of IPv6, a multi-industry protocol over which Charter claims no responsibility or control. Charter is not responsible or liable for any equipment purchased by you or otherwise used in conjunction with IPv6, nor any damage, loss, loss of functionality/connectivity or other liability associated with such equipment, use or the transition to IPv6 in general