Standards and Standard Organizations

While the IETF working groups have been working on IPv6 standards for many, many years, documents that describe what standards and features should be in broadband CPE devices have only started to materialize in 2010.

Broadband Forum

The Broadband Forum (formerly DSL Forum) has included IPv6 in its BroadbandSuite specification X.X which was intended to be released in 2009-2010.

CableLabs

IETF

RIPE

NIST

The New Hampshire's InterOperability Laboratory performed an IPv6 CE test, and as an exception to their general rule, published some test results. No vendors are named (to protect the guilty).

Other listings

Marco Hogewoning gave a presentation at RIPE 60 covering various vendors' support and progress with various DSL and router CPE. This has now been followed up with a page at the RIPE Labs to document IPv6 CPE. A complete listing of every survey can be found here.

Adapters

Adapter CPEs allow an ISP to offer subscribers immediate access to IPv6 over an existing IPv4 access network. Neither the existing IPv4 access CPE nor the ISPs IPv4 access network gear (DSLAM, etc.) need to be changed, nor have their firmware updated, if an Adapter CPE is used at the subscriber premise. As in Dual-Stack implementations, the ISP issues the subscriber a /48 prefix, or smaller space, using the ISPs own IPv6 allocation which the Adapter CPE advertises over the subscriber's home or office LAN.

The Adapter CPE practically works by plugging into any free ethernet port on an existing routers or modem at the subscribers premise. It encapsulates IPv6 traffic on the subscribers LAN in an IPv4 tunnel and sends it over an IPv4 network to the ISPs IPv6 enabled core. Regular IPv4 traffic at the subscriber premise follows its normal path on the existing CPE to the ISP core. Adapter CPEs can work behind nested NATs if the appropriate IPv6-in-IPv4 protocol is used. The ISP is expected to have a tunnel server to decapsulate the IPv6 traffic at their core network. One tunnel server should be able to handle thousands of Adapter CPEs, and such a server can be supplied by the Adapter CPE vendor.

Adapter CPEs can also reverse tunnel IPv4-in-IPv6 to serve subscribers operating an IPv6 modem but need a private IPv4 address tunneled within IPv6.

For users on a 3G, LTE or WiMax wireless connection via a USB style modem, a software version of the Adapter CPE can be used to connect the user to the same IPv6 tunnel server at the ISP core.

Cable

For cable, this is simple because all gateway devices certified by Cablelabs at DOCSIS 3.0 CM or CMTS will have IPv6 support. An example such device is the Cisco Systems DPC3939 Of course, having a compliant cable modem or gateway only matters if the cable company's CMTS also supports IPv6.

The new 'DOCSIS 2.0 + IPv6' standard also supports IPv6, which may on the cable modem side only require a firmware upgrade [http://www.rmv6tf.org/2008-IPv6-Summit-Presentations/Dan%20Torbet%20-%20IPv6andCablev2.pdf].

DSL

Most of the newest models released since Q3 2010 either have some level of IPv6 support, especially those models that support VDSL2. Many of the vendors with IPv6 implementations use Broadcom's chipset, and it's code has been lacking. That code has improved over the last few months to the point that in Q2 2011 that it's almost feature complete.

Routers/Wireless Access Points

Trial and Test devices

In addition to the commercial products, some people are rolling their own using Linux/BSD servers or upgrading the firmware of existing devices. The typical broadband gateway currently on the market is a standard computer design loaded with custom firmware according to the spec of the company whose plastic case and logo are used. But in actual fact, all devices whatever the brand, are manufactured by factories in the Far East using a small set of standard hardware designs. Virtually all of these designs can be adapted to use IPv6 by simply changing the software, i.e. uploading a different set of firmware. The brand name sellers are using this fact to have very short product cycles to adjust to market demand. This means that as soon as there is any significant demand for IPv6 support, they could update their software and have new products on the market in two to three months.

The Far East

The Japanese market has many more IPv6 devices and services than most other countries. A good way to track what is going on there is to read through the announcements at IPv6Style in Japan. Don't click on the English version of the site since that is outdated and doesn't contain the product announcements. Instead, use a web translator to read the site. You can use Babelfish to produce an adequate Japanese-to-English translation for learning about new products. While many articles will still be almost incomprehensible, new product announcements are so formulaic that you can usually understand what the product will do, and the product name and model for further inquiries.

If you want to deploy IPv6 and cannot find CPE on the market to support your needs, it is worthwhile to send a detailled RFQ to the major brand name sellers like Linksys, Netgear, etc. Japanese or Korean brand name sellers are more likely to have already done the IPv6 development so make sure that companies like Billion and Buffalo get your RFQ.