Wednesday, 24 August 2011

IPv6 product marking

I am sure we have suggested this to BIS before, but there needs to be some standardisation in industry on product marking for IPv6 equipment.

We are finally starting to see products that support IPv6, from printers to DSL routers. The problem is that it is not clear to someone whether what they are buying works with IPv6.

1. It may only be IPv4
2. It may be only IPv4 but expected to have firmware upgrades at some point soon that allows IPv6
3. It may work with IPv6 but lacks even basic features
4. It may work with IPv6 to do all you need but not every aspect of every RFC
5. It may have some amazing 100% RFC compliant all singing all dancing IPv6 stack

It is likely that equipment will not support every option in every RFC (just as is the case now with IPv4), but there are some key features you would reasonably expect in each product. e.g. a printer should at least be able to get an address by RA from the LAN, and allow manual configuration. A router should be able to get DNS and prefix delegation from ISP and do route announcements with DNS servers on the LAN. That sort of basic thing.

Why the rant? Technicolor are selling a router as "IPv6 ready". WTF does that mean. I would think, like "HD Ready" TVs, it means it is ready for when I get IPv6 from my ISP. But no, it seems it means that "one day they will have new firmware for it that does IPv6 but no guarantee on time scales", which is next to useless. What it does mean is their marketing department have cottoned on that people want IPv6 so put it on the box - in some ways marketing departments realising IPv6 matters is a good sign.

So what can be done? Do we want BIS to mandate stuff? Perhaps not - but if someone like BIS make some clear recommendations, with a view to the likes of Trading Standards considering them to be a suitable reference of what the public are expecting phrases to mean - that would effectively force sensible labeling. I believe one concern was that there is no way to impose this on imports, but that is daft - as they already have to comply with loads of EU and UK specific requirements and often have a label stuck on by importers for that very reason. It is not hard.

If something claims to "support IPv6" or be "IPv6 capable" then I think it should have all the necessary IPv6 functionality to do its basic job right now, out of the box.

I also think we need to consider "IPv4 only" marking as needed where something does not indicate it is legacy only. i.e. if something is sold as a "DSL router" or "Network printer" that should imply IPv6 (being the current IP standard), and be expected to say if it does not support that.

10 comments:

  1. Quite clearly the Technicolor router is not IPv6 ready.

    I can't imagine Ford being able to get away with claiming that a car is caravan ready if it didn't have a tow bar and that Ford may or may not manufacture one for that particular model in the future.

    ASA and Trading Standards?

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  2. My concern is that ASA and Trading Standards do not really have a consistent reference for them to understand the terms used like this. That is kind of what I am after...

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  3. Ooops. Not driving blogspot right. Nicolas said:-

    I suppose you could end up getting into a redefinition of the word 'ready' (a la 'unlimited'). But until they say "No, ready doesn't mean ready.", plain old English is all you've got, isn't it? However, I really can't see how anybody could successfully redefine 'ready' as 'not ready'.

    https://www.ipv6ready.org/ say that for something to carry the 'official IPv6 Ready' badge, that product should have IPv6 support available now and ready to be used.

    Not sure that helps though.

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  4. Just get 20 or 30 people to buy one of these routers from an online dealer. Send them all back under the Sale of Goods Act/Distance Selling Regs.

    After a while, noone will stock them because of the cost of dealing with returns.

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  5. '... A printer should at least be able to get an address by RA from the LAN.'

    What's the betting we see some products that only respond to router advertisements, and some that only respond to DHCP6?

    To satisfy point 5, presumably your printer would need to support all the technologies listed in RFC 4294, including IPsec. Fun but I'm not quite sure how you'd configure it!

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  6. IPSEC stuff is one reason I consider expecting "full RFC compliance" to be over the top.

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  7. Technicolor shipped me a TG789vn router across the pond and it does dual-stack PPPoE just fine. So it's real.

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  8. PeteX: We're unlikely to see a device that only responds to DHCPv6 - such a device cannot get a default route, as DHCPv6 says that you get your default route from RAs.

    Devices that only respond to RAs are much more plausible - Apple Mac OS X was such a system until the Lion release, for example.

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  9. @Nick getting the dealer to stop stocking them doesn't solve the problem of making a suitably priced alternative available.

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