Only a small percentage of the Internet supports the emerging protocol IPv6 despite the technology being mandated by the US government.

Figures from the web monitoring company Pingdom showed that just four percent of the Internet supports IPv6. Furthermore, an examination of the traffic at the Internet's biggest exchange AMS-IX showed that just 0.25 percent of Internet traffic is IPv6 and that the world is expected to run out of IP addresses by 2012. Pingdom doesn't pull punches on this, describing the situation as a "crisis".

That's not something that Internet numbering authority ICANN will go along with, "I don't think that a word like "crisis" is a helpful way to characterise the situation. Clearly, a lot of people need to do a lot of work but the work that needs to be done is achievable and in many cases has already started," said Leo Vegoda number resources manager at ICANN's IP address adjunct IANA.

Of course, It wasn't supposed to be like this: Pingdom showed a slide from a Cisco presentation from 2002 which suggested that IPv6 would be fully adopted by 2007. "Generally speaking, if you look at the current state of things, adoption will have to be sped up significantly over the coming 2-3 years. At the current rate, we'll have IPv6 fully deployed a decade or so later than when we need it, said a Pingdom spokesman.

Vegoda thinks that the situation will change when IP addresses will no longer be available for free. "IPv^ requires a significantly larger address space and for an ISP successfully selling an IPv4 based service a
significantly larger address space is not terribly relevant while there isn't an immediate shortage of IPv4 address space, which can be obtained almost for free from an RIR (Regional Internet Registry)."

However, he believes that this situation is changing. "the biggest ISPs have been very aware of the situation for a long time and realise that they will be among the first affected when large blocks of IPv4 address space are no longer available for (just about) free. They have staff actively involved in theIETF for the remaining protocol tweaks that need to be developed."

However, the situation is healthier in Europe than it is in the rest of the world. According to a blog from Derek Morr from Pennsylvania State University who maintains a blog on IPv6 adoption, Europe is far ahead of the rest of the world in adoption and traffic, although he doesn't provide any numbers. Pingdom is also unable to provide continents-specific figures.

There's a lot of catching up that needs to be done if IPv6 adoption is to get back on track, however Vegoda thinks that it's possible. "while the low number of commercially available IPv6 services available
today is not a good thing it isn't necessarily an insurmountable problem. It is possible for large, rapid deployments to be made and for commercial IPv6 services to be widely available in just a few years. I can't know what will happen but I am confident that rapid, widescale IPv6 deployment is possible," he said.