another IPv6 failure

Brent Finnegan -- June 16th, 2008

A reader alerted me to a very familiar-sounding story in the DNR/Page News and Courier today: the IPv6 initiative in Shenandoah has failed.

According to the article, the tangled web of financial mistakes and finger pointing includes at least four parties:

Shenandoah Wireless Broadband Authority (signed the contract to bring IPv6 to town)
– Page County’s Office of Economic Development (pledged $30,000 to the project)
Ambriel Technology (the R&D firm from Winchester that was contracted to bridge v4 to v6)
Rural Broadband Network Services (the wireless Internet service provider)

If the blame lies squarely upon one party’s shoulders, it’s unclear who that would be. Most of the blame seems to be shifting between the economic development office and SWBA.

Long story short; a marketing plan was never executed, the big customer(s) they were counting on never materialized, and there was not enough money to make it successful.

“At best, it’s a misunderstanding on both parts,” said Clapper, who became SWBA president when Jenkins’ term ended earlier this year. “Or at worst, one side just didn’t do their job.” […]

Clapper and Ambriel CEO Power said both sides are exploring ways to extricate themselves from the contract, while minimizing the pain either one has to bear.

Hopefully other municipalities looking to implement IPv6 will learn from the mistakes of Harrisonburg and Shenandoah (but I’m not counting on that).

9 Responses to “another IPv6 failure”

  1. isatgeek says:

    Are you sure that it is IPv6 that is being discussed? IPv6 refers to version 6 of the internet protocol. It appears that the technology that better fits this discussion is WiMax or some kind of wireless based technology, not the network protocol itself…

    Rather confusing.

  2. DopeFrogger says:

    According to this page,

    The address for the SWBA and HighSpeedLink are the same — both on the 6th Floor of the Bank of America building here in Harrisonburg…WorldAirWaves used to have the same address.

    A quick search of the web shows that one can only locate who has LEFT the Board of the SWBA, you can’t find a listing of who is currently on the Board.

    This whole IPv6 serial, seems to involve only a simple handful of people.


  3. David Troyer says:


    this is most definitely about IPv6. There was initially a lot of confusion regarding the technology in previous hburgnews discussions and it was often misunderstood to be something exclusive to wireless. If you search for past IPv6 posts on hburgnews or the dnr you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

  4. My company was a partner with SWBA in that we built and supported the network there and sold IP services to businesses and residential users. The IPv6 service and Ambriel were a separate project and we were not affiliated with it nor are under any agreement to support it.

    Please do not tie me or my company with Ambriel or that project.

    The USDA RUS project our company participated was a very positive and successful project. It has had a real impact in both Shenandoah but also for Page County.

  5. finnegan says:

    Fair enough. I added “If the blame lies squarely upon one party’s shoulders, it’s unclear who that would be. Most of the blame seems to be shifting between the economic development office and SWBA.”

    “DopeFrogger” (or whoever you are, posting from an IP very similar to that of another commenter), SWBA and RBNS are two separate entities. SWBA is a nonprofit set up by the town. RBNS is an ISP.

    Perhaps I should have been more clear as to exactly what I’m referring to here: I’m not talking about wireless networks or anything of that nature.

    I’m referring specifically to the similar motive of both Harrisonburg and Shenandoah’s economic development offices, which was to try to attract federal agencies (who have been mandated to be “IPv6 compliant”) to locate satellite offices in the area by announcing that Harrisonburg/Shenandoah will have networks with that capability. In both cases, the initiative failed (though for different reasons).

    Ultimately, the reason behind most of what I’ve written about IPv6 on this blog has been to try to understand what IPv6 is, what the reason(s) behind these projects are, to separate the hype from the facts, and to examine why it has failed.

  6. Justin says:

    I think it’s time phone companies start giving one free phone number to households and start putting wireless access (500kbps cable or dsl) on their poles in most neighborhoods and charging for that. (username based, not house based).

    Not that I don’t mind seeing 8-10 free wireless access points in some neighborhoods around here, but I think we need a paradigm shift.

  7. Justin C says:

    The problem with that Justin is it’s not scalable with IPv4. For anyone who doesn’t know by now, the most publicized and really biggest reason for IPv6 is we’re running out of addresses.

    NAT boxes and ISP level tricks can only go so far towards fixing the solution. On top of this are many many many other problems with IPv4 that have been demanding a change for over 15 years.

    What we’ve seen in the valley here is a lot of vaporware. It’s sad that these initiatives keep failing, but they’re doomed to failure the way places like Harrisonburg and Shenandoah approach them. If you want new infrastructure you’re going to have to invest relatively big.

  8. Geof Lambert says:

    I wonder if China will fair better in this and if this story will be called a “success” or “another IPv6 failure” after the Olympics are over:

    Beijing prepares for ‘High-tech Olympics’
    By Steven Schwankert , IDG News Service , 06/12/2008

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    All over Beijing, Olympic countdown clocks tick off the seconds that China has awaited for seven years: the moments until Aug. 8, 2008, at 8:00 pm, when the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics begin.

    Perhaps the most important competition involving the Olympics will not take place during 16 days in August, but occurred in 2000 and 2001, when Beijing challenged Istanbul, Osaka, Toronto and Paris for the right to be the host city. Seven years and 26 days before the opening ceremonies would begin, Beijing was awarded the 2008 Olympic Games. Like firing a starter’s pistol, the award began the race to build the IT infrastructure to stage and support one of the world’s largest and most watched sporting events.

    One technology that will get a run-out, albeit a limited one, during the Olympics is IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6). It does a better job of supporting applications like videoconferencing and high-definition television than its predecessor, IPv4, and offers opportunities for lower-cost construction of security networks and monitoring devices.

    While time is running out on the number of IP addresses available to the world’s Internet users, the problem is localized, so the clock won’t strike midnight everywhere simultaneously. For China, which now has the world’s largest Internet population, the witching hour for IP addresses could be as soon as 2010 or 2011, according to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

    “The deployments of IPv6 around the world are led by what is happening in Asia,” said Matt Kolon, vice president of technical operations for Juniper Networks APAC. “Traditionally, IPv6 in Japan has been seen as the leader in deployment and research and development, but China has come on in the last few years.”

  9. finnegan says:

    Another IPv6 update from Page.

    SWBA found itself in a financial tight spot last year after entering into a $156,000 contract with Ambriel to purchase the IPv6 system — the “next generation” of network protocol — which it ultimately could not afford.

    There is dispute on the board and within the community as to how SWBA found itself in the current situation. Much of that situation is centered on the involvement of the Page County Office of Economic Development, which committed $30,000 in financial assistance to the board and agreed to help market the IPv6 service.

    Former board members have said that at the time of the Ambriel contract, there was a lot of confidence coming from the county’s economic development director, Tom Cardman, (now a member on the board) that bigger customers would be attracted to the area to help foot the $3,500 monthly bill from Ambriel.

    Cardman has publicly disagreed with this sentiment arguing that he said that he might be able to lure new businesses to Shenandoah if IPv6 were available. He contends that serious issues, which he was unaware of prior to joining the board, made it impossible for his office to market the IPv6 service.

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