The United States is damaging itself by not adopting the updated version of the Internet Protocol, IPv6, as fast as other countries, a study has found.

Eighty-six percent of 1,000 respondents said they believed there would be a negative impact on the United States for dragging its feet on IPv6 adoption, according to the The IPv6 Government Action Study. A hefty 70 percent felt the delay would hit US technological leadership; 62 percent said it would impact national security; and 58 percent believe it will affect US influence over Internet stability.

The US Office of Management and Budget has required the federal government transition from IPv4 to IPv6 by June 2008. Juniper and SynExi, a company founded by IPv6 technologists, conducted the study with the aim of examining the status of this IPv6 transformation. Survey respondents included officials from federal, defecse and state/local government organisations, plus IT "decision makers."

IPv6 promises easier administration, tighter security and an improved addressing scheme over the Internet's current protocol, IPv4. It uses a 128-bit addressing scheme, supports a virtually limitless number of uniquely identified systems on the Internet, while IPv4 supports only a few billion systems and space on the network is rapidly running out because of the huge growth in the Internet.

A striking 85 percent of respondents felt the federal government should play an active role in the commercial adoption of IPv6. Fifty-three percent also believe that the federal government should provide guidance and some level of funding to support the US private sector's transition, and 75 percent believe that a US Government IPv6 Transition Office would be very or somewhat helpful.