Unitel Gets the IPv6 Ball Rolling in Mongolia

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Unitel Gets the IPv6 Ball Rolling in Mongolia

Earlier this year while compiling the latest IPv6 deployment data for our Pulse Enabling Technologies page my attention was drawn to a dramatic rise in levels of IPv6 traffic emanating from Mongolia. Interested to learn more, we set about making contact with Unitel, the largest digital service provider in Mongolia and the source of the sudden dramatic increase in IPv6 adoption in that country.

Although we only detected the growth in IPv6 adoption recently, it’s been 7 years since 2016 when Unitel started researching IPv6 deployment in earnest as their projected growth in subscriber numbers and data volumes indicated IPv6 would be a vital technology for them in the near future. Unitel decided to adopt a phased deployment approach and, starting in 2018 with their core network elements, they gradually progressed to IPv6 enable all of their network infrastructure.

APNIC, the Regional Internet Registry for the Asia-Pacific region, have been fostering dialogue about Internet technology and providing technical training for Mongolian Internet operators for many years. IPv6 deployment has always been a topic of discussion at these meetings and they helped to address challenges related to understanding different transition technology options, acquisition of technical skills for engineers and some of the new security considerations related to IPv6.

As Munkhbat Gansukh, Manager of Data Network Unit, explained, “Our ISP operations account for approximately 70% of the broadband market. With hundreds of thousands of Internet users, we are required to manage vast amounts of data traffic, with huge costs in NAT [Network Address Translation – a stopgap solution for sharing limited IPv4 addresses across multiple subcribers] technology, hardware and software. IPv6 is a viable solution for decreasing such costs.”

Made with Flourish

It’s clear how much Unitel are able to benefit from their many years of preparation when considering their deployment milestones. “Presently, our deployment of IPv6 dual stack has reached approximately 13% of our household customers. We are expecting to reach 70% by April 2023. That means the whole Mongolian IPv6 Internet traffic will reach about 27% from current 5%,” Gansukh told us.

Unitel’s current focus is their domestic broadband network. Once completed, they plan to address their enterprise Internet subscribers and their mobile network where IPv6 deployment is expected to take a further 1 to 2 years.

Gansukh’s advice to other operators, who may be weighing up the need to deploy IPv6, is unequivocal, “IPv6 has many benefits compared with IPv4 such as reduced NAT costs, improved user experience, improved cyber security and better support for the next generation of digital technologies. IPv6 requires an IPv6 capable network (end to end) from the residential device to Border Gateway of your network. That means IPv6 deployment can take a long time for large ISPs. So, just start researching and planning to deploy IPv6 in your network today.”

It’s also great to learn that the drivers and vision for IPv6 deployment in Mongolia are bigger than a single operator, “We hope other Mongolian Internet operators will follow us by deploying IPv6. It’s directly related to Mongolian Internet development.”

Photo by Jené Stephaniuk on Unsplash