Comcast has begun the production rollout of its new IPv6 service, with 100 customers installed in San Francisco's East Bay in one week.
IPv6 is an upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol, which is called IPv4. IPv6 features an expanded addressing scheme that can support billions of devices connected directly to the Internet at faster speeds and lower cost than IPv4, which is running out of addresses.
Comcast began an IPv6 trial 18 months ago and is a leader in the deployment of IPv6-based services among U.S. ISPs.
The production rollout began on 31 October. It offers customers "native dual-stack service," which means Comcast is supporting both IPv6 and IPv4 services.
The initial subscribers of Comcast's production-quality IPv6 service have stand-alone computers running Microsoft Windows 7, Windows Vista or Apple Mac OS X that are connected directly to a Comcast cable modem. Comcast plans to support IPv6 for customers with home routers at a later date.
"Our approach is to seamlessly introduce IPv6 to subscribers," says John Brzozowski, distinguished engineer and chief architect for IPv6 at Comcast. "You could in essence say that we've begun our national deployment of IPv6 right now."
Comcast will continue to support the hundreds of Internet users nationwide that are participating in its ongoing trial of IPv6 services.
"We're still conducting trial activities in various parts of the country," Brzozowski said. "Since January of 2007, we have gone through a lot of trial activities. We feel the results of those trials have been successful, and that's the reason we are charting our path toward IPv6 further with production-level service in East Bay."
Comcast wouldn't comment on its plans for offering production-level IPv6 service in other parts of the country. Previously, Comcast has said that it will complete its network transition to IPv6 in 2012.