Telecom Argentina’s Successful Road to IPV6

10/05/2023

October 2023 was the month that the engineers at Telecom Argentina had set as the date for the final exhaustion of IP addresses (version 4) in all the companies that make up one of the largest telecommunications conglomerates in the country. 

Two years earlier, the technical teams at Telecom’s Network Transformation Office had raised the alarm and designed a project for the deployment of IPv6 addressing in dual stack format in the organization’s networks and services that supported it. This was the only way for the business to remain sustainable. 

The initiative covered all services and networks, including the related systems that support IPv6 functioning and operation, explained Sergio Bustamente of Telecom’s Network Transformation Office (link to ppt) during his presentation at LACNIC 39. 

The main challenge of the project was to reduce the impact of IPv4 exhaustion and deploy IPv6, with a focus on the fastest growing businesses.

The LACNIC Campus paved Telecom’s road to IPv6, Bustamante explained. “We relied heavily on LACNIC, its IT department and the different IPv6 courses offered through the LACNIC Campus to train our technicians,” he said. 

Telecom knew that if it wanted to continue to grow and provide new services —especially with the Internet of Things, fiber networks to the home, and the 5G network on the horizon— it had to move to IPv6. The organization had completed a very important merger (Telecom and Cablevisión) and was focused on having a single numbering plan assigned to services. 

“First, we presented the need to our management team. The key was to obtain the support of the various areas within the organization and include the different products and services. We said that we would try to do it in the shortest possible amount of time and with the smallest possible economic impact,” Bustamante commented.

How did you approach the project? Collaboration between Telecom’s technical staff and commercial developers allowed us to focus on IPv6 deployment in those networks on which the company was planning to centralize its business plans following the market.

How did you do it? Telecom’s training department contacted LACNIC to inquire about large-scale courses for its staff, and these courses facilitated the learning process. Nearly 100 Telecom technicians and professionals participated in the IPv6 courses (basic and advanced). “Certification (introduced this year by the LACNIC Campus) is a major incentive to complete the courses on the Campus, as it endorses the knowledge that is being incorporated,” Bustamante added.

When designing the plan, Telecom also used Jordi Palet’s ten do’s and dont’s for migrating to IPv6, which were adapted to the language of Telecom. Likewise, once the IPv6 address plan had been put together, in 2021 Telecom also received the support of Alejandro Acosta, coordinator of LACNIC’s R&D department.

Why a technical community? While the plan was being developed and implemented in 2022, Telecom created a community with agile cross-functional teams for the purpose of problem-solving, evolving “all” the “services” so that they would use IPv6 addressing.

“Each member of the community adopted agile methodologies, thus strengthening autonomy, achieving flexibility and immediacy in the response to adapt the project to the specific circumstances at the time, consolidating us as a team and as a community,” Bustamante added. Cells worked independently but interacted and synchronized from time to time to share progress and possible solutions to various problems.  

All of Telecom’s systems, services, platforms, devices, and network teams were involved in the transformation process. “The project is truly crosscutting and has an impact on the entire company,” Bustamante explained.

Security from day one. Telecom’s corporate security team was part of the project from the very beginning. According to Bustamante, having this team aligned with the plan was essential, as security over IPv4 is not the same as security over IPv6. In fact, a vulnerability was detected during the process in a model that Telecom had deployed with IPv6 traffic. This vulnerability was corrected, and it was then possible to continue to grow. 

It was also important for all operators, OTTs, and CDNs with whom Telecom interconnects to have IPv6 addressing. “We worked with the CDNs and operators with whom we connect and configured our transport to interact with them over IPv6,” Bustamante said.

By the end of 2022, Telecom had 1.2 million clients with IPv6. Today, this number has grown to 3.5 million, mainly clients of the mobile network (7% of the use of services). “The goal for this year is to make 30% of our network available over IPv6,” the expert concluded.

Click here to watch the presentation

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