Technical Blog

IPv6 – The Essential Communication Standard for IoT
Written by Arush Saxena | asaxena@solekai.com

With the advent of Internet of Things (IoT), innovative companies are building solutions that connect low power “things” to communicate with each other. Due to the nascence of technology and lack of widely adopted standards, there are many proprietary protocols in use that serve specific purposes. However, with the widespread adoption of IoT and the need for interoperation between devices, a need for a standard for communication is desired and absolutely essential for seamlessness, scalability and interoperability. IPv6 offers that uniformity.

What is IPv6?

IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) is a communications protocol that helps with identification and location of various computers on the Internet. IPv6 replaces the previous communications standard IPv4. The key reason why the transition is needed is because as more and more devices connect to the Internet they will all need an addressing scheme that can provide an IP address to all these new devices. According to predictions and trends, there will be 30 billion devices on the Internet by the year 2020. IPv4 addressing scheme was running out of addresses, and IPv6 vastly increased the addresses, almost to 3X10^38.

What is 6LoWPAN?

6LoWPAN is short for IPv6 over Low Power Wireless Personal Area Network. This standard allows even a small device with very low power to communicate using IPv6. Each of these small devices have an IPv6 address and can connect to the Internet. 6LoWPAN specification supports “header compression” to greatly reduce the overhead of the IPv6 and UDP headers.

Key Advantages of Using IPv6

  • Open Standard – benefits from contributions from community
  • Each node has a distinct IP address – hence each node is addressable
  • Scaleable and enables Mesh routing
  • Frequency and Physical layer agnostic
  • Enhanced Security using IPSec

Key Challenges with Using IPv6

  • Intercommunication between IPv4 and IPv6 devices is a concern
  • Header overhead – where slim packets are required, IPv6 header size limits the payload
  • Server side scaling to support millions of IPv6 6LoWPAN header contents

IPv6 Projects Completed by Solekai

Solekai has been working with customers and partners in the Smart Grid arena for the past 10 years, even before it was called “Smart Grid”. We have worked closely with equipment device manufacturers to develop solutions for endpoints, collectors and head ends. In addition, we have helped deploy the technology over 10 utility companies across the North America and the UK.

Project Highlights

  • Complete IPv6 based IoT framework architecture for major smart equipment manufacturer in the US to optimize bandwidth and reduce latency
  • Compression for low bandwidth and high latency connections
  • Security implementations e.g.,  MAC layer encryption, Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS), application level object signing using HMAC etc.
  • NAT64 implementation to facilitate communication between legacy IPv4 and IPv6 devices

With leading technology companies moving to IPv6 for their devices,  IPv6 will soon become a defacto standard in the industry. Solekai has successfully managed the transition for numerous customers and has the expertise on all aspects of the IPv6 protocol. Let us reduce the development risk and accelerate time-to-market for your IoT devices. For more information, contact us at 858-436-1900.