IPv6 is an "emerging" technology that has been emerging for some time...at least in the U.S. Development on IPv6 began in the mid 1990's and here we are in 2015 with most of the U.S. yet to implement IPv6. (Google statistics show that less than 14% of the US has adopted IPv6.)
Interest in IPv6 is increasing, though. With IPv4 addresses nearly exhausted, ISPs, network device manufacturers and even end-users are taking notice and deploying or working on implementing IPv6.
I covered some IPv6 terms and basics a few years back. So this article is intended as a practical how-to for moving a home/SOHO network to an IPv6 internet connection.
Before we start, it's important to note that IPv4 and IPv6 are not mutually exclusive. In fact, you can and will likely use both at the same time. A network running both IPv4 and IPv6 is said to be "dual stacked." IPv4 may be phased out over time. But it is likely we'll be running in dual stack mode for some time.
Making The Switch
Step 1: Determine whether your Interent Service Provider (ISP) supports IPv6
The best way is to check your ISP's help pages, or do a quick search using your ISP's name and "IPv6". Or as a last resort, you could even call customer support.
The road to IPv6 was a long one for me. My ISP was Windstream and I wanted to experiment with IPv6. But Windstream didn't support it. Periodically, I'd call customer service and ask if they supported IPv6. But the Windstream customer service usually didn't understand my question and couldn't provide an answer.
However, I recently switched to Time Warner as my ISP, prompted by a new customer promotion. After switching, I noticed on Time Warner's website that "TWC has rolled out IPv6 to over 90% of its residential network". So, I set about getting an IPv6 internet connection.
Step 2: Determine whether your modem and router support IPv6
ISPs that support IPv6 usually list supported devices. (Time Warner lists supported devices here.) My modem is a Motorola SB6121 and is listed as "approved for use with Time Warner Cable high-speed data services and supports IPv6." You can access the SB6121 at 192.168.100.1, but the only available option is to reset it. I didn't have to change anything on the cable modem to enable IPv6.
Since I'm not using a Time Warner router, I was on my own figuring out if my router supports IPv6. Fortunately, I recently reviewed the Linksys LRT224 router and worked with one of their engineers, who assured me the LRT224 supports IPv6.
If you don't have a friend at your router's maker, dig into your router's admin pages and look for IPv6 settings. The ones you want are usually found in the WAN configuration section. Here's the relatively simple options provided on an old Linksys E4200. I suspect they would not be much help in getting a working IPv6 connection.
Linksys E4200 IPv6 WAN connection options
Here are more comprehensive options on a D-Link DIR-615, which look like they would provide a better shot at getting you connected.
D-Link DIR-615 WAN connection options
As noted earlier, other devices on your network, such as switches, access points, and internal network devices, do not need to support IPv6 for you to deploy IPv6. They will continue to operate at IPv4. But you should have at least one device that supports IPv6. You'll need it to determine whether you have a proper IPv6 internet connection. Fortunately, Windows 7 and above and MacOS 10 both support IPv6.