IPv6 and VoIP: Friend or foe?

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Whether enterprise users are ready or not, it appears that implementation of IPv6 is in the not-too-distant future. The need for enhanced addressing is needed, especially as everything from your PC to your toothbrush (so your dentist can immediately know whether you're really brushing after every meal) becomes IP-enabled.

See also: IPv6: the essential guide

At the same time, it's also a given that VoIP is firmly entrenched as the current -- no longer even the "next" -- generation of voice networks.

So this leaves us wondering what the impact will be when these two inevitable trends merge.

Not that many years ago, we were quite concerned about VoIP due to the bandwidth overhead. Voice packets tend to be quite small. In fact, for the low-bit-rate codecs that tend to be used with VoIP, a typical packet size is on the order of 20 to 40 bytes. (These small packets are necessary in order to avoid too much latency.)

And the overhead simply due to IPv4 and UDP about equals the payload size, with at least 20 bytes (octets) for IPv4 plus at least 8 octets for UDP. Now IPv6 is coming, and at least doubling the header size.

We can see two sides to this situation.

On the plus side, IPv6 offers some much-needed additional control. Overall, VoIP should perform "better" when it's VoIPv6.

At the same time, the additional overhead is a concern. Have we finally reached the point that we can make the same assumption of "free unlimited bandwidth" for WAN communications that we've made for years concerning LAN communications?

Thanks to our colleagues Gary Kessler and Gary Audin for their contributions to the ideas above. And we look forward to continuing this conversation with you and our team of analysts at Webtorials.

This story, "IPv6 and VoIP: Friend or foe?" was originally published by Network World.

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