The ICT Industry
The information and communication technology (ICT) industry is one of the most dynamic and ever-changing industries in the world. New advancements and developments are introduced into the industry every day. For example, several companies have opted to upgrade their internet protocols (IPs) from version 4 to version 6. Internet protocol version 6 (IPv6) refers to a new standard within the internet protocol suite that allows computers to communicate with one another over the internet through network systems. A good example of a company that has successfully implemented an upgrade of IP version 4 to IP version 6 is T-Mobile USA.
T-Mobile USA is a company that operates mobile networks in the United States of America and specializes in provision of voice, messaging and data services to subscribers. T-Mobile USA also provides services to mobile subscribers in regions such as Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. The line of business of the company is wireless telecommunications. T-Mobile USA is the fourth largest company in the United States that provides wireless telephony services.
Importance of the Upgrade to Business Operations
In my opinion, the upgrade of the internet protocol from IP version 4 to IP version 6 by T-Mobile USA was of great importance to the organization. This is because the upgrade has allowed numerous computers to access or have routable addresses on the network of T-Mobile USA. According to Desmeules (2010), the need to upgrade the internet protocol of T-Mobile USA was influenced by increased access of the company's network by more computers. Solomon (2011) further asserts that the number of computers that needed to access the network systems of T-Mobile USA increased considerable as the company expanded and recruited more service subscribers. As the number of subscribers grew, the number of accesses to the network also increased. Consequently, the company had to upgrade its internet protocol in order to ensure that the quality of subscription services it offers to the customers does not deteriorate or dwindle. According to Desmeules (2010), T-Mobile USA opted to switch to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) due to the numerous limitations imposed by the Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) which was being used by the company. The upgrade also resulted into increased performance of the network systems of the company, thereby leading to increased efficiency and effectiveness of various business operations such as online payment for services rendered to customers, faster internet access through Wi-Fi connectivity and stronger network signals for mobile phones.
Backward Compatibility Issues
Despite of the successful conversion of the internet protocol of the company from IP version 4 to IP version 6, there were a few technical obstacles that were encountered during the conversion and deployment processes. In addition, the company faced various compatibility drawbacks. One of the major compatibility issues that were encountered during the upgrade from IP version 4 to IP version 6 was the rearranged of the format for internet protocol version packet. The company also encountered compatibility backwards during the introduction of extension headers in the IP version protocol. The extension headers were introduced in order to allow for greater flexibility and support for additional features within the internet protocol. In addition, T-Mobile USA also encountered compatibility drawbacks during the implementation of security encapsulation features into the network after the upgrade.
In my opinion, the compatibility drawbacks that were encountered could be trounced through dual stacking, tunneling and Network Address Translation (NAT). Dual stacking refers to the establishment of routing cables and routing information for both the old IP version 4 and the new IP version 6. Dual stacking helps in identifying the types of traffic within the network and creation of router interfaces. Tunneling refers to the process of encapsulating the datagram of IP version 4 into a datagram of IP version 6. Tunneling is usually done to facilitate the exchange of information between the host of the internet protocols during conversion or upgrading processes. Tunneling also allows for testing of the network after an upgrade before full implementation so that disruptions and interferences within the network are minimized. However, Zhang, Wilkiewicz and Nahapetian (2012) and Cowley (2012) warn that a drawback of tunneling can greatly burden the header of the internet protocol and adversely affect its performance, thus adequate precaution should be taken when carrying out tunneling. On the other hand, Network Address Translation (NAT) refers to the process of creating private address schemes within the IP version 4 address so that the new IP version 6 could easily access the internet through it.
Focus of the Case Study
The main focus of the case study was to provide a detailed explanation on how the company adopted, developed and implemented the upgrade of IP version 4 to IP version 6. The case study highlighted some of the major reasons that led to the upgrade of the internet protocol version as well as the various challenges that were encountered during the upgrade process. Moreover, the case study highlights some of the benefits, such as increased internet accessibility and provision of high quality subscription services to customers, which accrued to the company after the upgrade.
Success of the Conversion
In my view, the conversion of IP version 4 to IP version 6 by T-Mobile USA was successful because the company was able to attain the desired outcomes. For instance, it helped in increasing efficiency of operations which was one of the main goals of the company in implementing the upgrade.
Pros of the Upgrade
In my opinion, upgrading the network from IP version 4 to IP version 6 had numerous benefits to the organization. Firstly, the upgrade of the network protocol resulted into an increase in routable addresses. This is because IP version 4 usually allows for 32-bit addressing thus imposing limitations on addressing space available to an organization. Therefore, an upgrade to IP version 6 is advantageous and beneficial because it increases the number of routable addresses by allowing for up to 128-bit addressing. According to Kate (2008) and Bates (2010), the enlarged addressing space allows a company to allocate address blocks to other business units within the organization. In addition, an upgrade to IP version 6 also provides support for other routing protocols such as Interior Gateway Protocols (IGPs) and Exterior Gateway Protocols (EGPs). Moreover, the header of IP version 6 is larger and simpler than that of IP version 4. This is due to the removal of Header Length (HL), Checksum and Fragment Offset amongst other features from the IP version 6 header. As a result, the processing speed of the IP version 6 header is increased, thereby leading to increased efficiency and performance. Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) also offers security extension headers through IPSec which makes it easy to encrypt data within the network system. The IPSec also allows for easy authentication. In my view, this results into improved security within the network through effective access controls and ensuring confidentiality and data integrity with minimal impact on the performance of the network. The upgrade also allowed clients using operating systems such as Windows XP and UNIX to easily access the network of the company without many difficulties.
Cons of the Upgrade
In addition to the above states compatibility drawbacks, the upgrade of IP version 4 to IP version 6 at T-Mobile USA also resulted into inability of some clients to access the network. For example, most clients who were using certain print servers were not able to access the network systems. Moreover, the upgrade also required that all operating systems that are to be used with the new IP version 6 should be listed to prevent hitting back. Hitting back is where a network system rejects particular devices, drivers or software. The upgrade of IP version 4 to IP version 6 also required lots of planning and coordination. According to Thomas (2010), there should be adequate planning in order to ensure smooth conversion and proper network configuration during upgrades of IP version 4 to IP version 6. Rooney (2012), Thomas (2011) and Ginsburg and Hattar (2011) also assert that the process of upgrading IP versions is usually complex and costly due to the high funding required. This usually discourages many companies from implementing such upgrades.
In my opinion, I would recommend similarly upgrades to other companies. Despite the complexity and cost of the process, an upgrade of the internet protocol usually results into more benefits to an organization, for example, increased efficiency in operations.
To conclude, I would assert that the upgrade of the internet protocol from version 4 to version 6 by T-Mobile USA was a prudential move by the company. The upgrade enabled the company to provide better services to customers thus gaining competitive advantage over its competitors. For example, the conversion of IP version 4 to IP version 6 facilitated adoption of a new protocol called Mobile IPv6 which allows subscribers to switch from one network to another irrespective of their physical locations. This helped in attracting more customers to T-Mobile’s network, hence increasing the customer base for the company.