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Press Release

European Research Networks Ready For IPv6 Future


40 million researchers benefit from early compliance by GÉANT and national networks

Cambridge, UK 2 June 2011 – Research networks across Europe have today issued a reminder that they have successfully deployed the IPv6 protocol, the next generation of internet addressing technology. Working with network co-ordination centre Réseaux IP Européens (RIPE), research networks have achieved IPv6 compliance and will be taking a leading part in next week’s World IPv6 Day (8 June 2011), which tests IPv6 compatibility.

GÉANT logo
GÉANT logo

The phenomenal global growth of the internet is leading to a shortage of internet addresses under the existing IPv4 protocol, which will stop new devices being connected in the near future. IPv6 provides enough addresses (340 trillion) to allow the internet to continue to expand and the industry to innovate. It is not, however, directly compatible with IPv4, meaning that devices and networks need to be upgraded to allow IPv6 connections.

“Research networks have always been at the forefront of innovation, not only providing leading edge services to users but acting as a proving ground for new technology, with the IPv6 protocol a perfect example,” said Matthew Scott, General Manager of DANTE, the organisation which on behalf of Europe’s National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) has built and operates the GÉANT network. “The shortage of internet addresses under IPv4 is a very real and pressing problem, but thanks to the efforts of Europe’s research and education networks vital projects and international collaboration will continue and expand under IPv6.”

The latest European research networks, such as the high speed GÉANT pan-European network and many of Europe’s national networks have been built from the outset on the IPv6 protocol, and acted as an early test-bed for the technology. NRENs in Finland (Funet), France (RENATER), Ireland (HEAnet), Italy (GARR), Luxembourg (RESTENA), Netherlands (SURFnet), Norway (UNINETT), Portugal (FCCN) and Slovenia (ARNES) have all highlighted their capabilities ahead of World IPv6 Day.

The GÉANT pan-European network has been running native IPv6 since 2002, and multicast IPv6 since 2004. The experience gained from testing and implementing IPv6 on GÉANT has also been valuable to several other research projects dedicated to developing IPv6. 

Funet, the Finnish University and Research Network, has been running IPv6 in production since 2003. Funet is a dual-stack network, supporting IPv4 and IPv6 access everywhere. All basic network services such as DNS and NTP have full IPv6 support. Additionally, Funet runs several transitional services to facilitate the adoption of IPv6. A project skeleton to facilitate the organising of campus transition activities has been created in close collaboration with Funet member organisations. 

French NREN RENATER provides IPv4 and IPv6 connectivity services - in native mode since 2003. RENATER most frequently connects campus or research centres sites via regional or metropolitan networks of which nearly a third currently support the IPv6 protocol. Visualisation tools, like the IPv6 Weather Map (introduced in February 2009) are available on the RENATER web site. In addition to unicast, RENATER provides a multicast service in native mode for both versions of the IP protocol (IPv4 and IPv6) mainly for video retransmissions. RENATER has been a partner in a number of European programmes including 6NET, 6CHOICE and 6DISS. Currently it is part of the 6DEPLOY-2 programme which aims to install a set of IPv6 test-beds in different continents. Additionally, extensive training material has been created and is kept up-to-date for practical training sessions on IPv6 deployment and management. 

HEAnet, Ireland’s NREN, has been running IPv6 in production on all public services since 2003. It is currently in the middle of a three-part strategy to work towards a stable transition. Firstly, managing remaining IPv4 usage, then preparing a full IPv6-only service that interoperates with the IPv4 internet, and thirdly assisting clients and partners in the transition. 

Students and researchers will soon be able to use the eduroam roaming service to connect through IPv6 to the rest of the world from public gardens, parks, archaeological sites and major squares all around Rome and its surroundings, thanks to a joint project carried out by Province of Rome, GARR (the Italian NREN) and CASPUR, a major Italian supercomputing Inter-University Consortium. The Province of Rome has created ProvinciaWiFi, a widespread wireless network with more than 700 hotspots, covering open spaces all around the city and the surrounding province, as well as being available in libraries, cafés, restaurants and other public places. Previously citizens and tourists needed to register in order to access the network, but now students and researchers will be able to just open their laptop and log on thanks to the implementation of eduroam. Extensive tests have been successfully carried out, both in IPv4 and IPv6 over the last few months with the operational phase due to start in June 2011. 

The production use of IPv6 inside Luxembourg NREN RESTENA began by enabling dual-stack on the backbone network in 2003. From then onwards, IPv6 was subsequently introduced into RESTENA’s service portfolio and through international peerings to achieve complete integration. IPv6 is available for virtually all customer edge networks in a true dual-stack setup. To guarantee a smooth transition dual-stack user connectivity is based on an opt-in basis. IPv4 and IPv6 are both equally integrated into RESTENA’s work-flow, with full transparency from the user perspective. An overview of RESTENA’s work is available at

In 2001, SURFnet was the one of the first networks in the world to support native IPv6. Institutes are encouraged to obtain a native IPv6 connection to SURFnet. In 2010, SURFnet started actively supporting institutes in their adoption of IPv6. A number of practical documents have been published, on key issues like security, routing & switching, implementation and number plan. SURFnet has also formed support teams for hands-on support at institutes. Other activities include hands-on training, enabling IPv6 within its own (non-network) services, sponsoring the IPv6 Award for the best Dutch IPv6 implementation and the proposal for the “comply or explain” list of the Dutch government in order to have IPv6 mandatory for ICT-related tenders of the government (or a good excuse why not). IPv6 is included on this list since November 2010. 

UNINETT have been IPv6 compliant since 1998 and has offered IPv6 to its customers since 2005. Currently 62 per cent of the higher education institutions in Norway are IPv6 enabled, with some institutions having almost 50 per cent of the clients running IPv6. More information is available at

FCCN, the Portuguese NREN, was one of the first European NRENs to natively connect to GÉANT over IPv6 in 2003. Since then FCCN has been driving its members to deliver their basic internet services over IPv6, including web content, DNS and email services. FCCN has developed two national projects focused on IPv6 and presented at several conferences, including the TERENA Networking Conference. FCCN has also been involved in successful EC sponsored projects like 6NET, 6DISS and 6DEPLOY and is currently participating in 6DEPLOY-2. 

ARNES is one of the earliest adopters of IPv6 in Europe. A step-by-step, long term approach was chosen to deploy IPv6 into the national backbone and services, beginning with the first IPv6 Land Speed Record in 2002 when GÉANT was piloting IPv6 connectivity. Today the ARNES backbone is IPv6 ready. Most services, with the exception of email, are offered to ARNES members over IPv6. ARNES is actively collaborating with the Go6 - Slovenian IPv6 initiative, particularly in organising Slovenian IPv6 summits, conferences, technical workshops as well as providing an active contribution to IPv6 deployment strategy on the national scale, focusing on education and promotion. Recommendations and best practice documents are being prepared to ensure a smooth deployment of IPv6 for ARNES members. ARNES will also take an active part in the World IPv6 Day in Slovenia. 

*Funet and UNINETT are part of NORDUnet, a joint collaboration by the 5 Nordic National Research and Education Networks in Denmark (Forskningsnettet), Finland (Funet), Iceland (RHnet), Norway (Uninett) and Sweden (SUNET).


GÉANT is the high speed European communication network dedicated to research and education. In combination with its NREN partners, GÉANT creates a secure, high speed research infrastructure that serves 40 million researchers in over 8,000 institutions across 40 European countries. Operating at speeds of up to 40 Gbps, GÉANT is the world’s largest and most advanced multi-gigabit network dedicated to research and education. Building on the success of its predecessors, GÉANT has been created around the needs of users, providing flexible, end to end services that transform the way that researchers collaborate.  GÉANT is at the heart of global research networking through wide ranging connections with other world regions, underpinning vital projects that bridge the digital divide and benefit society as a whole.

Co-funded by the European Commission under the EU’s 7th Research and Development Framework Programme, GÉANT is the e-Infrastructure at the heart of the EU’s European Research Area and contributes to the development of emerging internet technologies. The project partners are 32 European National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), TERENA and DANTE. GÉANT is operated by DANTE on behalf of Europe’s NRENs. For more information, visit 

DANTE is a non-profit organisation, coordinator of large-scale projects co-funded by the European Commission, and working in partnership with European National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) to plan, build and operate advanced networks for research and education. Established in 1993, DANTE has been fundamental to the success of pan-European research and education networking. DANTE has built and operates GÉANT, which provides the data communications infrastructure essential to the success of many research projects in Europe. DANTE is involved in worldwide initiatives to interconnect countries in the other regions to one another and to GÉANT. DANTE currently manages projects focussed on the Mediterranean, Asia-Pacific and central Asia regions through the EUMEDCONNECT, TEIN and CAREN projects respectively. For more information, visit

Paul Maurice
+44 (0)1223 371 300