Trial Closed to New Volunteers

We've had a great response from customers who have volunteered for our IPv6 trials, with over 7,000 volunteers so far, far exceeding our expectations. As a result, we no longer need additional volunteers and are therefore no longer accepting new ones. If you are not able to participate in a trial directly, you can keep track of our latest IPv6 news and information here. And thank you for your continued interest!

Comcast's 6RD Trial Has Started

We are pleased to announce that today, Wednesday June 30th, 2010, Comcast activated our first residential 6RD trial customer, who was located in Cambridge, MA.

In the coming weeks we expect to add several hundred trial customers in a wide range of locations in our network, since the 6RD trial is not geographically limited. 6RD trial customers can use their existing computers and cable modems, which may not support IPv6 directly. However, their home gateway devices have been upgraded to one of two different trial devices which support 6RD, enabling IPv6 packets to be encapsulated within IPv4 packets. The encapsulated packets are then sent to a 6RD Border Relay in the Comcast network which in turn forwards the traffic to the Internet over native IPv6.

Comcast's First Native Dual-Stack Customer Activated!

We are pleased to announce that yesterday, Wednesday, May 12, 2010, Comcast installed our very first native dual-stack trial customer. Native dual-stack means that the customer has native IPv6 and IPv4 addresses. The customer is using the Comcast Business Class Ethernet Dedicated Internet (EDI) Service, and is located in the San Francisco Bay Area. It seemed only fitting that our first native dual stack customer is in the San Francisco Bay Area, given the huge role that area has played in the computer and Internet industries. :-) In addition, we're pleased to lead first on IPv6 with our Comcast Business Class service, the fastest growing service area of the company.

The first ping of the customer's connection to validate connectivity occurred at roughly 4:55pm PDT (7:55pm EDT) on May 12, 2010. The first IPv6-enabled website tested from the customer site was the Comcast IPv6 Information Center (this site) at http://www.comcast6.net, first accessed at roughly 5:33pm PDT (8:33pm EDT).

The connections from customer networks using the Comcast Business Class Ethernet Dedicated Internet Service to Comcast are via Juniper and Cisco network elements, which have been configured, where applicable, to support IPv6. From that point customer IPv6 traffic is routed into our core network, which already supports IPv6 natively.

Details for Trial #2: Native Dual-Stack for Cable Modem (DOCSIS) Customers

This trial depends upon a Cable Modem Termination System (CMTS) being upgraded to support IPv6. Two of our CMTS vendors, Cisco and Arris, have software ready for IPv6 testing on their CMTS platforms.* As such, our initial trial areas will be restricted to selected markets with Arris or Cisco CMTSes. We have selected the San Francisco / Bay Area market, Chicago market, and Philadelphia market for our initial trial areas. That does not mean that all customers in these areas will be able to trial IPv6, however. In each market, we are working to select a small number of CMTSes that will be upgraded, based on where our trial volunteers are located. We are working with trial volunteers in these areas to gather additional information to assist in finalizing which specific customers can participate.

Once trial users are selected, they may be sent a new Arris DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem if their existing device cannot support IPv6. In cases where customers have a home gateway device that meets the necessary IPv6 requirements, they may use that device in the trial. If their device does not meet the minimum IPv6 requirements and is not upgradable to add this support, we will be providing a home gateway. Initially, we will be using the Apple Airport Extreme, the NetGear WNR3500, and the NetGear WNR1000. We may use other home gateways later.

We anticipate beginning this trial in June, though that date is subject to change based upon the availability of the home gateways we will initially use, and upon the installation and operational readiness of the Arris and Cisco CMTS software.

* Note: We also use Motorola CMTSes. We believe Motorola intends to support IPv6 on their CMTS platform sometime in 2011, but that is not yet confirmed.

Details for Trial #1: 6RD

Our 6RD trial does not involve issuing IPv6 addresses directly to customer premise equipment. As such, the trial does not need to be geographically bound based on where certain equipment has been upgraded. As a result, we will be selecting customers from all regions of the country to participate in the 6RD trial. We will initially begin with up to 50 customers to validate the functionality of the trial. We will then expand this to at least several hundred participants. Initially, we will use Linksys home gateways that will either be loaded with Linksys software or an alternative open source implementation (we will trial both), which are used at the customer premise. We may use other home gateway devices later.

Traffic destined for IPv6 hosts will be sent through a 6RD relay. Initially, this will go through Cisco routers which have specialized 6RD relay software installed on them. We may use other 6RD relays later.

We anticipate beginning this trial in June, though that date is subject to change based upon the availability of the home gateways we will initially use, and upon the installation and operational readiness of the infrastructure. We will be contacting our first round of potential 6RD trial users soon.

Initial Trial Customers Selected for Trial #4: Native Dual-Stack for Business Class

We have selected our first group of business class customers who will participate in this trial. These will all be fiber-based Ethernet customers. We anticipate beginning this trial soon.

Initially, these customers will use IPv6 addresses provided by Comcast. The connections from customer networks to Comcast are via Juniper and Cisco network elements, which have been configured, where applicable, to support IPv6. From that point customer IPv6 traffic is routed into our core network, which already supports IPv6 natively.

Comcast Trial User Portal Activated

Early this week, all volunteers will receive an email inviting them to officially signup for our various IPv6 trials. The email contains a link to our trial user website. Once the volunteer sets up an account, they will be asked to accept a trial user agreement. In order to help us finalize which trial a volunteer will qualify for, there will also be a user survey initially as well. Over time, this site will be used for surveys and providing more trial information. It also has a web forum for interacting with us and other trial users, among other features.

Comcast to Participate in ISOC IPv6 Deployment Workshop

On Thursday, April 22, 2010, Comcast is participating in an IPv6 workshop organized by the Internet Society (ISOC). According to their agenda, they will discuss development of a base set of good and bad practices for IPv6 deployment, discuss concrete documentation of operational practices around the world, and give the less experienced opportunities for direct discussions with those who have more experience.

One of the topics we expect to discuss is so-called DNS whitelisting, which has been debated recently in the Internet community. You can find a short whitepaper here, which introduces the topic for discussion at the workshop. The agenda and all presentations from the workshop are here.