by Rebecca Merrett

IPv6 the great enabler of IoT but Australia’s adoption is slow

Oct 30, 2015

IPv6 is the ‘go to’ communications protocol to enable the Internet of Things but Australia’s adoption of this technology is slow, according to a report released by Communications Alliance today.

IPv6 is the latest version of the Internet Protocol for identifying devices or computer systems on networks and routing traffic. The report stated that IPv6 will become the default protocol for the IoT because it offers interoperability on a network level and scalability.

“IPv6 is the universally agreed, preferred communications protocol for IoT for scalability, security by design and simplicity,” the report read, which was composed by an IoT Think Tank made up Alcatel Lucent, Communications Alliance, Department of Communications and others.

“IPv6 is a major enabler of IoT… as it adds a major component of networking simplicity.

“The IoT needs the massively expanded protocol address space that only IPv6 can provide.”

Many technologies are becoming compatible with IPv6, the report pointed out. For example, Bluetooth 4.1 is expected to have mesh-networking and IPv6 to allow devices to directly connect with each other and via IPv6 to the Internet. Also, Thread uses IPv6 technology and 6LoWPAN as its foundation.

However, Australia’s adoption of this technology is lagging behind other countries, the report said. Citing Google IPv6 statistics, the report pointed out that Australia’s take up of IPv6 is only 1.44 per cent compared to the world average of 7.6 per cent, with US being 21.7 per cent and Germany 18.1 per cent.

The report said many ISPs have the capability to move to IPv6, and recommended it be made the default for all platforms.

Australia’s infrastructure missing out

One of the biggest industry sectors that could benefit from IoT applications is infrastructure, as it could be used to help optimise traffic, smart use and distribution of energy, and the like, the report said.

However, it was not given any thought from Infrastructure Australia when the authority published its audit paper in May 2015, which looks at the country’s infrastructure challenges, the report found.

“Infrastructure Australia appears to have overlooked IoT as a significant innovation for the telecommunications infrastructure and is missing the opportunity to use IoT to address the major challenges in transport, energy and water.”

The report also cites Frost Sullivan’s research, which is to be released later this year, showing Australia is well behind other countries in developing smart cities.

“The development of smart city plans and deployment in Australia is apparently lagging behind the rest of the world. Anecdotally, smart cities seem bedevilled by governance issues across local, departmental, state and federal jurisdictions. This makes the necessary collaboration complex and often unwieldy.”

IoT skills issue

With IoT devices constantly generating a wealth of data, analytics skills are needed in order benefit from it.

The report cited a 2015 study by Deloitte Access Economics, which predicted Australia will need an extra 100,000 ICT workers by the end of the decade.

“There is a widespread recognition of an educational shortfall in STEM subjects, which risks exacerbating an already growing and evident shortage in the skilled ICT and industry practitioners needed for IoT. New roles such as ‘data scientist’ will become increasingly vital.”

The types of analytics tasks that require skills include: Predictive maintenance, loss prevention, asset utilisation, inventory tracking, disaster planning and recovery, downtime minimisation, energy usage optimisation, device performance effectiveness, and network performance management.

Other areas that require skills include capacity utilisation, capacity planning, demand forecasting, pricing optimisation, yield management, and load balancing optimisation.

Visualisation technologies that dynamically display the changing events coming from the data streaming from devices are also key, the report said.

“Data visualisation and open service APIs are key for unlocking big data insights and proving usable, insightful IoT services and collaborating with partners and customers.”