Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Top UK ISPs finally agree to provide IPv6 to all customers?

An interesting article today on BBC discusses a new net neutrality code of practice which top ISPs have backed.

The idea is complicated. One of the concerns that has led to this is that people can sell premium packages for better performance to servers provide by specific companies, etc. i.e. charge for access to certain streaming TV, etc.

That is bad, but on the other hand, trying to define net neutrality is hard. For example, we offer email services and so do competitors. However, as our email servers are on our network, access to them is going to be better for our services than competitors. Is that against net neutrality?

Anyway, putting all that aside, as you can see from the BBC article, many top ISPs have signed, and one of the clauses is :-

Firms cannot market a subscription package as including "internet access" if certain kinds of legal content or services are barred.

This has one very interesting implication. These top companies cannot sell an "internet access" package that does not have IPv6. If they do, then they are barring access to any IPv6 only services. There only has to be one IPv6 only service in existence for this to be the case.

The article states "Ten ISPs including BT, O2 and Talktalk backed the agreement"

So, what can I say? If you are with any of these ISPs, and if they claim to sell you "internet access", and if you cannot get to then ask them why. If they eventually work out that it is an IPv6 only web site, ask why they are barring your access, and if that means they are in breach of this new code of practice by doing so. Remember, you can always take them to ADR over this as well.

OK, I have to say that I am being unusually cruel to my competitors here, and so please do take that as a joke. However, they should not sign such a code of practice if they do not expect their customers to challenge them when they don't meet it. Also, they damn well should be offering IPv6 now (see other blog post).

As for A&A's position on this - we don't filter anything and have not had any court orders to do so - we don't deliberately block anything, we just shift packets to Internet transit and peering, and we have an open peering policy at the peering points of which we are members. We don't (and can't) guarantee there is routing to every part of the Internet, as the Internet does not work like that, but we are not deliberately blocking anyone. I am not sure I want to sign the code of practice as I am not convinced their definitions are right, but the principles we are happy to go with and always have been.


  1. "if you cannot get to then ask them why."

    To which they will reply "it doesn't work from our head office, support center or NOC either.. it's the website's fault".

    I don't see that complaint going anywhere unless somehow you bypass the "deflect the customer" peons and the complaint gets to a network engineer. Even then the network engineer is likely to go "lol" and just bounce it back anyway as they won't have the clout to enable IPv6 for the entire enterprise / network.

    1. Indeed, but it can go further. You just accuse them of blocking it and ask for a deadlock letter, at which point they do start to take it seriously. Also, trading standards may start taking an interest in the claims of "internet access" now such things are gaining a more refined definition.

    2. There is also always the "it works from my connection with XYZ ISP, but not with you, therefor you must be blocking access to it."

    3. But you can then say "but my friend can access it from his computer, so the website must be fine". (and maybe even get an IP6 enabled friend to send a screenshot).

  2. I can't actually find a copy of the code of practice. You'd think that it would be linked to by one of the many stories that mention it!

    1. Indeed - I would rather have commented on the proper content not just the BBC report.


    3. Excellent. And no mention of technical reasons being an excuse for blocking. I wonder if we can get comment from trading standards on it - will they consider it wrong to advertise "internet access" without allowing all legal content (including IPv6 only web sites)?

    4. Found it!,com_docman/task,doc_view/gid,1340/Itemid,63/

  3. I did think of contacting BT Business regarding this (as we are currently with them for FTTC) pointing out that says the site is up and so do and : but it appears the W3C validator and Alertra both are NOT IPv6 compatible :-( [I was thinking that if I could say these 3 independent services all say the site is up, then the "fault" is within BT: but I can't do that).

    I'm shocked and disappointed at the W3C and Alertra not being up to date :-( With your influence RevK, I don't suppose you can put some pressure on them?

    1. I think we were involved in getting downforeveryoneorjustme fixed, or some customers were, I forget the details. I have emailed the IPv6 launch mailing list though.

  4. Let's see how we get on with PlusNet (our backup connection which needs to go anyway)...

    Interestingly, when you report a fault like this through their web site, you have to go through the whole palava of silent line test, plug and unplug routers etc. etc. before they then ask "Is the problem a) That you can't connect to anything, b) That your connection is slow, or c) That you can only connect intermittently." Duh.

    So, fault raised, let's see what happens.

    1. 201207251129: Your support request has been escalated to the correct team for review.

      201207251133: Your support request has been escalated to the correct team for review.

      201207251135: We are currently performing tests on your broadband service which will allow us to investigate the problem you've reported. Please be aware if this is a new fault that this can take up to 24 hours. We'll contact you as soon as we have more information and let you know what happens next.

    2. "...up to 24 hours." clearly means "more than 24 hours".

    3. My response at 1140:


      I note that you have failed to deliver a response within your quoted 24 hours. Do you consider this acceptable?

      The website is still inaccessible through you, but is still accessible through other ISPs.

      Thank you.

    4. My response at 1454:

      Over 27 hours and I still haven't had the courtesy of a reply.

    5. My response at 20:25:

      Coming up to 33 hours and still nobody thinks it's worth dropping me a line to say "Sorry, we are incapable of understanding why you can't access a web site and we need more time to work it out"?

      Is this how you treat all your customers?

    6. Regardless of the complaint being so esoteric, they should have replied. Ooops.

    7. The complaint itself was far from esoteric - it was something that could very easily have been confirmed without any technical knowledge. If they didn't have a clue, then they would have replied in a similar vein to Sky (see below). If they did, then they could have replied with a detailed response explaining about IPv6.

      Their automated systems told me it would take up to 24 hours for a response. The same systems are clearly not programmed to check whether a response is made within this time period in order that an e-mail can be sent to assure me that my custom is important and that I should wait a little longer until they get their act together. This speaks volumes.

      As far as I can see, there are only two reasons for their delay in replying:

      1) Abysmal customer service
      2) They read this blog and the case has been escalated

      In the case of (1), well, pay peanuts, get monkeys. In the case of (2), is there nobody willing to comment within the company?


    8. 201207271133: [Internal] Testing Kind regards, FRED BLOGGS

      (anonymised, of course)

    9. 201207271213:

      We are pleased to be able to inform you that a member of our Customer Support
      Centre has now escalated your Question [number XXXXXXX ]
      for further investigation.

      The following comment was added to the Question
      Dear XXXXXX,
      Thank you for your query.

      I am really sorry in the time taken to investigate your fault. However matters such as this are not deemed as Broadband faults. I will refer your account to the relevant team.

      Please do not hesitate to get back in touch

    10. Now they've got me really mad.

      48 hours and it turns out that their systems allocated my fault to the wrong department/team (I had to jump through all sorts of hoops to describe the problem in the first place) and not only do they not bother to help me, they manage to word it as though it was me who screwed up.

      Not happy.

    11. 201207271208:

      Summary: Connection appears fine. Issue with connecting to specific sites is not a fault so referred to Tech.

    12. 201207272304:
      Dear XXXX,
      Thank you for getting back to us.

      If you are having difficulty access just one website and the site is not reported to be down then the issue is likely going to be on the computer itself.

      I would suggested checking to see if you firewall is blocking the site for some reason, also it would be advisable to run a virus scan on the computer.

      If this fails to help then check you DNS settings on the computer.

      Unfortunately for further support on this it is best to speak to the computer manufacturer or have a computer technician take a look.

      If you require any further help

    13. My response:


      Thank you for your response. I am disappointed that it has taken you 60 hours to come up with a response which clearly shows you have not understood the original fault and have not even bothered to test it.

      The site in question works perfectly on my computers when I am connected through a different ISP. It works on none of my computers when I am connected through PlusNet.

      To be absolutely clear, this is a PlusNet problem and I would be grateful if you could investigate as per my original request.

    14. 201207281151:

      Dear XXXXX,
      Thank you for getting back in touch with us.

      The reason for the initial delay in the problem is because the issue was raised as a broadband fault, rather than a technical query.

      I have however, found the cause of the problem and it is not something that is within our control, or able to rectify from here.

      The issue is that the website only appears to be setup for connecting with an IPv6 address.

      As you can see here:

      ; IN AAAA

      ;; ANSWER SECTION: 3600 IN AAAA 2001:8b0:1:ec::102

      AAAA = the standard record notation of IPv6 where as IPv4 (standard IP addresses) is an A record, As per the below:

      ; IN A

      ;; AUTHORITY SECTION: 600 IN SOA james-kennard 2012042300 10800 3600 1209600 600

      I have tested this with 3 different DNS servers including Google's Public DNS and all return the same results.

      As such, you'd need to contact the owner of this domain to advise him.

    15. So...

      Has anybody got any ideas on the best reply to this one?


    16. Not sure.
      They have confirmed it has an Internet Protocol address. Like many sites it only has one of the active versions, ut it is none the less legal content on the Internet and so surely they should ensure it is available?

    17. My reply to them:


      I have spoken to the owner of the domain who has confirmed that the domain is correctly configured and that is an "IPv6" only site. He has said that the site is accessible through any ISP providing 'Internet access' and that if the site is not accessible, it is the ISPs fault.

      So, despite you appearing to blame a third party *again*, this would seem to be a PlusNet issue.

      I would be grateful if you could therefore answer the following questions:

      1 - Do you provide Internet access?
      2 - If the answer to (1) is 'Yes', please explain why I can't access
      3 - If the answer to (1) is 'No', please provide details of your terms and conditions of service which detail which parts of the Internet are inaccessible to PlusNet customers.


      PS It was your systems that categorised this as a broadband fault. Yet again you seem to be blaming somebody else for your faults.

    18. A point here that someone made on one of the forum posts I think was that as the site owner I have made it "IPv6 only" and so I am sort of to blame. But there are a vast number of sites that choose to only be accessible by one of the two IP protocols in current use, and many choose the old one that has run out. Choosing only one IP protocol should not be an issue, clearly.

    19. 201207311518:

      Dear XXXXX,
      Hi there,

      I understand that this is more about whether or not we're providing IPv6 access than there actually being a fault with the service, and also how this ties in with the net neutrality contract ISPs in this country have signed. I assure you IPv6 is something we are working on but don't have in place at present.

      To address your queries:

      If you wish to access the site over our connection there's a couple of methods open to you at the moment:

      You can use the IPv6 tunnel at to browse to any IPv6 enabled site (the relevant box is below the list of sites below the 'IPv4 gateway' header, alternatively you could just append "" to the hostname of the website you want to visit).

      You could also enable an IPv6 tunnel through your router - there's a guide on our forums here:,106578.0/topicseen.html though that's specifically for the Thomson TG582n we supply.

      I hope that covers things and confirms you can browse to the site in question. We'll certainly be advising as soon as we can offer IPv6 support natively.

    20. So, looks like PlusNet read this blog!

  5. I particularly like the bit of the code which explicitly prohibits signatories from using the term 'Internet access' where full Internet access is not offered.

    1. Indeed, if it is not IPv6, it is not full Internet Access, simples.

    2. They'll just put "we have full(*) unlimited (**) internet access" so meet the code.

      (*) Not full
      (**) Limited to 1GB

      The magic asterisk fixes all problems like this.

  6. Huh. And here's even Zen not providing IPv6 yet ... I am shocked!

    1. From their FAQ:

      > Do I need IPv6?
      > The simple answer is not right now.

      As a Zen customer, I'm mightily annoyed that they presume to tell me what I do and don't need.

      > You will still be able to get to all your favourite web sites and services using your existing IPv4 addresses.

      Bzzzt. Wrong.

      > As time goes on some companies and ISP's might only provide their services via IPv6 but this some way off

      Bzzzt. Wrong.


    2. Indeed. One reason is IPv6 only is to counter the "there are not IPv6 only web sites". Naturally they say "well, one", but that means the argument becomes "how many do there have to be?" and "how many customers have to be inconvenienced?" and " is one site, good job loopsofzen is not that popular". Also some irony in the "zen" bit.

  7. Another thought occurs to me...

    Is there any legal compunction for any ISP to use the IWF watchlist?

    If there isn't, then can we say that any ISP that's "thinking of the kids" and using said lists isn't offering Internet Access as defined in the code?

    1. There is no requirement to use the IWF list, no.

      The code does however have an exception for those that do in its current wording. I suspect not having that would make the code useless for most large ISPs.

    2. Bugger. Missed that.

      But... In that case, commitment 2 allows for commitment 1 to be almost completely overridden. The key practice is "ensuring elements of a consumer's contract are observed" - all that needs to be written into the contract is that the service is IPv4 only and since commitment 2 appears to trump commitment 1, they can still say they are providing Internet access...

  8. As a related comment, even though Virgin haven't signed up to this, it has been said on their support forum that they intend to have IPv6 support at some point in 2012.

    If they weren't deploying IPv6 devices during their infrastructure upgrade to support double speeds then that was daft. So lets hope they keep their promise.

    Might make others do it.

    1. Ick.. looked in the VM forums for some substantiation of that. I'll need the mind bleach now. VM staff saying that ipv4 is not running out? :o :o :o

    2. Yeah it is pretty bad, but they do explicitly say they plan to do it in 2012

  9. Just had this reply from Sky,

    "Welcome to the Sky Help Forum, it would appear the site in question that you are trying to access is down, we've checked from different connections and it's not loading.

    I hope this helps."

    1. I think it needs to be emphasised that it works from "elsewhere" (friends, work, etc) :-)

      You should be able to resolve the IP6 address, so you could send them the fact that you can't ping it either... :-)

  10. Thanks to everyone for keeping me posted on some of the forum posts and emails chasing your ISPs on this. They are both amusing and surprising. I was not trying to upset anyone, and I meet a lot of these ISPs in various industry events. I know that a lot of ISPs do have to handle some dumb questions but everyone needs a way to recognise when something is a tad more complex and escalate to someone with clue. I am rather disappointed with some of the replies. What I expected would be front line pass to someone technical that then provides the answer that it is an IPv6 site and refers to whatever their plans are. I would hope that AAISP do a better job when faced with tricky questions but we have the advantage of being small. Has anyone tried "Shibboleet" yet :-)

    1. Firstly, Kudos for knowing what "Shibboleet" is.

      However, in order to provide an IPv6 service this requires a vast undertaking of network upgrades. Which won't get as high priority as for example, preparing network capacity for Olympic sized traffic streaming.

      Just because a website decides not to include 99% of the worlds population which does not have IPv6, doesn't mean the ISP is blocking the website.

      If the ISP doesn't support the protocol a website is using, it is no fault of the ISP. The access isn't being blocked, it simply isn't accessible.

      If you'd like to use IPv6 on your IPv4 connection, there are companies that provide free IPv6 tunnels to overcome this, such as and

      Sure, it would be great to have ipv6 implemented everywhere, but this isn't going to happen overnight. Sure IPv4 addresses are running out, but ISP's have plenty of IP Space to cater for their customers.

      I also think that some clarification needs to be set here. Yes, all of the providers do provide access to the internet. You're able to load websites, you can communicate with other systems (Communication between one network and another network = inter network communication, or Internet for short). There are two different protocols for the Internet. There are no legal requirements which state that ISP's have to provide connectivity to both IPv4 and IPv6.

      I would also like to point out, that the article you linked to at the top of the blog post, has *nothing at all* to do with IPv6. - IT's not even mentioned anywhere within the news post at all.

    2. Long post - I'll try and answer.

      1. Yes, even the xkcd wikipedia article links to us :-)
      2. Lots of web sites choose to work on only one of the current IP protocols, typically, the old one which has no addresses left.
      3. And if an ISP chooses not to "support" a part of the IPv4 space perhaps? or certain protocols like IPSec? or certain ports on protocols that use TCP? Where does one draw the line?
      4. Yes, tunnels are one way, not ideal.
      5. It won't happen over night - good job IPv6 is over 15 years old. It has been around long enough that it is older than any kit currently in use at any ISP, I bet. AAISP have been doing IPv6 since 2002. A sensible target would be before IPv4 ran out last year.
      6. providing access to "some" of the Internet and not at least trying to provide to all that is available is not providing "internet access", that is the point
      7. The article is about an agreement to provide access to *all* legal services on the internet if you want to call your service "internet access", and telling customers if not. As these ISPs are not doing that, because they choose one current IP protocol to not allow, then they are in breach of the agreement. Simple as that. That is why it is relevant - read the agreement and it does not mention IPv6 at all, or TCP, or port 80, it says services available on the internet. is such a service, and is not accessible via those ISPs. That is the whole point of my post!

      Ask youself, is a service available on the Internet. You have to say yes as it can be accessed via an Internet Protocol. Just the specific case of one IPv6 address using TCP port 80, but that is one of the Internet Protocols and it is publicly accessible via that. Can that service be accessed using the "internet access" service sold by the signatory ISPs? Answer is no. So have they done what they agreed? Answer is no. Simples.

    3. "Ask youself, is a service available on the Internet."

      No, It's not a service, it's a website.


      "The article is about an agreement to provide access to *all* legal services on the internet"

      Are all legal services availabe over IPv4? If yes, then they are in line with the agreement.


      The question is, what is so special about which makes it so important to be accessable? If I was providing a "service" via a website, I'd want to capture the most market, therefore I would make my website accessible to everyone, and include those on IPv4. And not limit myself to the smaller amounts of people who have IPv6, but not cut them out either, so it'd have both IPv4 and IPv6 ;)


      Yes, UK are behind on the migration to IPv6 services, but Europe as a whole, are actually leading the way.

    4. A web site is a service, and in this case it is a game that the site provides which is also a service. Nothing special about it. Like millions of other web site it is only accessible via one of the two currently used IP protocols, then only via TCP, and then only via port 80, and then only using HTTP protocol. Web sites and other "services" are normally only available via a specific protocol and port, and users have access to all protocols and ports so that they have access to all legal services on the internet. The fact the web site is this specific, valid, combinations of protocols at each layer should not be a reason for an access provider to block it.

      Or are you suggesting that an ISP that only offered IPv6 could say they provide access to all legal services on the internet? basically, if that is not a valid thing to say, then neither is one only providing access to IPv4.

  11. This is an interesting read, I sent a letter to my ISP before discovering this post: They have yet to respond.

    For what it is worth RevK as soon as I am out of contract with them I'm shifting to A&A.


  12. 2 years on and the UK Big 6 _STILL_ have no plans to offer IPv6

    It's time to revisit that "Full Internet Access" claim.