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Existing handsets, routers key challenges

Shamim Ahmed
07 Feb 2023 00:00:00 | Update: 07 Feb 2023 00:24:16
Existing handsets, routers key challenges

The internet service providers (ISPs) in the country are ready to implement the latest Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) but end users are not as most of the devices they use, such as low-cost handsets and routers, do not support the system.

The government recently initiated IPv6 implementation aiming to reduce cyber security threats. It asked ISPs to import from now on only those routers that support IPv6.

According to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), ISPs, international internet gateways (IIGs), and National Internet Exchange (NIX) service providers are fully prepared to adopt IPv6.

It also said the largest telecommunication operator, Grameenphone, has brought the new service across 50 per cent of its network while Robi and Banglalink are fully equipped to do so. Besides, Teletalk will start IPV6 implementation after getting a budgetary allocation.

In response to The Business Post’s recent query about the status of IPv6 implementation in Bangladesh, the BTRC mentioned a number of challenges.

Quoting data from ISPs and mobile operators, the telecom regulator said 50-55 per cent of service providers in divisions are not prepared for IPv6 and have made less than 1 per cent progress in introducing the new protocol due to old devices that are still in use.

According to the BTRC, the country is using a huge number of handsets that do not support IPv6, which is the main barrier to implementing the technology. Besides, local ISPs do not have enough technical knowledge of the new system, and a good number of Bangladeshi websites do not support IPv6.

Broadband internet service providers said over 80 per cent of Wi-Fi routers still use the IPv4 technology and those cannot be replaced overnight since importing IPv6-supported routers has become complicated due to problems in opening letters of credit (LCs) created by the dollar crunch.

Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh President Md Emdadul Hoque said 60 lakh routers are being used in the country and more than 50 lakh support IPv4 while less than 10 lakh are IPv6-supported.

“We cannot stop using IPv4-supported routers overnight as customers will not suddenly stop using their existing devices and buy new ones that support IPv6,” he said.

BTRC data shows the country had 12.5 crore internet users in November last year, including 11.34 crore mobile internet users and 1.16 crore ISP as well as the public switched telephone network (PSTN) subscribers.

According to Asia Pacific Network Information Centre, Bangladesh has managed to bring only 4.28 per cent of its total computer network under IPv6 coverage while it is 78.04 per cent in neighbouring India. The

penetration rate is 49.05 per cent in Sri Lanka and 35.1 per cent in Nepal. “Now is the time to go for IPv6 implementation in Bangladesh. India has already implemented it over a large segment, which is really good,” Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar told The Business Post.

He said ensuring cyber security will be easier once the latest protocol is available across the country.

All ISPs must also be equipped with the necessary support system so that they can help their customers upgrade to the IPv6 technology, he added.