While Israel may be an international leader in the hi-tech world, it is destined to be stuck with the moniker of tag-along when it comes to adapting Internet Protocol version 6 (Ipv6) industry leaders warned Sunday.
"The Internet is growing very fast and by 2010, we expect that we will run out of IP addresses," Latif Ladid, IPv6 Forum president, told The Jerusalem Post at the VON (Voice, Video & Vision)-Israel Conference. "That leaves us only two-and-a-half years, and the question for the Israeli market is - does it want to be a leader of the industry or does it want to sit on the side? We need to push people and show them that there is a massive gap between where they are now and what is considered cutting edge."
Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is designated as the successor of IPv4, the current version of the Internet protocol, for general use on the Internet. While IPv4 has proven its durability over the last two decades, it is showing signs of strains, especially in its limited address space and its fast depletion [IPv4 has 4.3B IP addresses of which an estimated 23 percent are still available]. This is particularly true in light of the anticipated 17 billion devices that the IDC predicts to be installed worldwide by 2012. With IPv6, it is possible for every device on a network - including any wireless device - to have its own IP address.
"IPv6 adds unlimited address space to connect everyone and everything, stateless auto-configuration, seamless mobility, automated network management, mandatory security and new optional service levels. IPv6 is already in use on other parts of the world, and 1,800 out of the 8,000 leading Internet Service Providers have already made the switch - companies in South Korea, China and Japan," Ladid said.
"Representatives from those countries fill the IPv6 Forum's annual conferences, while Israel continues to sit on the sidelines - Israel is already a world leader in ICQ and IPv6 is the next natural step for them, but right now in our annual forums, there is no Israeli representation."
Limor Schafman, founding president of IPv6 Forum-Israel, concurred.
"It is astonishing that companies are not interested in participating in this. Companies are not in denial that change is taking place, but the question is, do they want to spend the necessary money to make this happen?"
The IPv6 Forum-Israel was established last July with the prime objective of promoting deployment and swifter uptake of the IPv6 in Israel with support from industrial, educational and research communities and government agencies enabling equitable access to technology and knowledge. Ladid and Schafman, however, have had a difficult time convincing companies to make the switch. "When we first started here, nobody wanted to hear from us," Ladid said. "We must question the leadership - Israel is so advanced as far as being a technology country and that is why it is so surprising that Israeli companies have not become more of a leading force."
He believes they are, instead, "taking a bottom line view when what they need to be doing is building a strategy for the future. They are setting themselves up to become followers."
A Communications Ministry official speculated that the reason was a matter of money and competition. "HOT won't invest any money because Bezeq is not going to invest any money and even though Bezeq may want to invest in the new protocol, they can't because they don't have the funds to do so," he told the Post.
Schafman said Communications Minister Ariel Attias has given the IPv6 Forum-Israel "an immediate ear," but that is not enough. "He has done well in removing some of the regulatory laws, but we need him to be active on promoting this as well," she said.
Schafman and Ladid will meet with Attias on Monday in an effort to get more leading Israeli companies to switch to the IPv6.
The responsibility, however, ultimately lies with the companies themselves, according to Ladid.
"The companies need to implement the changes - they need to put in new routers and develop new applications and train people in a different way - it will cost money to do, but it must be done - this is called progress and it is where the world is heading."
The VON Conference is among the world's top showcases of IP technology, with this year\s edition focused on start-ups and venture capital funds seeking exposure in the country's hi-tech sector.