Before you ask for Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) addresses, you need to have some idea of how many to ask for. If you have not already done so, please review the Basic Information topic in the IPv6 Address Plans article in the Network Management section.
If you already understand the difference between Provider Assigned/Provider Aggregatable and Provider Independent addresses, you can skip to the Nature of Your Organization section below.
As described in this article on The Headache of IPv6 Readdressing:
Provider Assigned or PA (sometimes referred to as Provider Aggregatable), is IPv6 address space that is registered (with a Regional Internet Registry (RIR) and effectively owned by an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Such IPv6 address space is designed to remain with that service provider. It is address space that you borrow as part of your service agreement for your Internet circuit and the agreement states that you will return that address space to the provider once the relationship is terminated. Even so, there are no guarantees that the address space they provide you will remain with you for the lifetime of your agreement either. They may change the IPv6 addresses they provide you if your office moves, if they change your service delivery method, if you upgrade your circuit, or if they have some maintenance or other reason to change what IPv6 address ranges they can hand out to a customer in a given geographic region. The simple thing to understand about PA address space is that it isn’t truly yours, you are just borrowing some from your ISP. Eventually you will have to give it back.
Contrast this to Provider Independent or PI, which is IPv6 address space that has been allocated to your organization from one of the five RIRs: American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC), Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), Latin America and Caribbean Network Information Centre (LACNIC) or African Network Information Centre (AFRINIC). Because this IPv6 address space is allocated directly to your organization it stays with you (so long as you pay your modest ARIN dues), regardless of which service provider you are utilizing at any given time. You can change your service provider, add additional service providers and even peer with other corporations and not have to change your IPv6 address space. This is obviously the more optimal configuration if you can do it. To use PI address space you also need to have an Autonomous System Number or ASN. The ASN is what allows you to peer with your ISP utilizing Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) so that you can participate directly in Internet routing (sending and receiving prefixes to the global routing table). This routing method is what allows you to advertise your specific IPv6 prefix out to the public Internet through one or more Internet providers.
Nature of Your Organization
Where you get IPv6 addresses from depends on the nature of your organization. Is your organization:
1. A Home or Small Office/Home Office or Small-Medium Business
2. A Large Enterprise
3. Part of the United States (US) Department of Defense (DoD)
4. Part of another US Federal government organization
5. A US State government organization, or
6. A University, College, or other educational institution?
- If your current ISP is listed in Available IPv6 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Networks article in the IPv6 and IoT Frequently Asked Questions section, contact them to see if they can provide you with IPv6 PA addresses and IPv6 Internet connectivity.
- Otherwise, you will probably need to get PA IPv6 addresses from a new ISP after confirming that your current ISP is unable to provide IPv6 service to your location. Review this article for additional background information and this article as well as this article for some questions to ask any potential ISP.
If you are getting IPv6 addresses for a large enterprise with multiple locations served by multiple ISPs, if your organization already has its own ASN, or if your organization has previously gotten IPv4 addresses directly from a RIR, then you will probably want to review this IPv6 Address Allocation and Assignment Policy document and then evaluate both:
- Getting PI IPv6 addresses directly from one of the five RIRs. The RIR for North America is ARIN, and their procedures are documented here
- Getting PA IPv6 addresses from each of your current ISPs or others if some of your current ISPs are unable to provide IPv6 service to some of your connection point(s). Review this article for additional background information and this article as well as this article for some questions to ask any potential ISP
If you are part of the US DoD, you will probably obtain IPv6 addresses in accordance with the DoD IPv6 Address Plan. Both the Address Plan and addresses can be obtained from the DoD Network Information Center (NIC) (Authentication Required). (The DoD NIC only issues addresses to those in the .mil domain.)
If you are part of some other US Federal government organization, you will probably get IPv6 addresses from the office of your organization’s Chief Information Officer (CIO). The points of contact for many non-DoD US Federal government organizations are listed in Part 1: United States Federal government (other than the DoD) organizations documents in the IPv6 and IoT Policy, Guidance and Best Practices article in the General Information section. If that office can’t help you, chances are you shouldn’t be using IPv6 addresses even if you can get them.
If you are part of one of the US State governments that has deployed or is in the process of deploying IPv6 (including Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, or Wyoming), then you will get your IPv6 addresses from your state CIO. The Washington State CIO provided these IPv6 Design Considerations. Some reasons why state governments are not planning to deploy IPv6 are also given in this 2016 letter from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO).
If you are part of some educational institution, the office of your institution’s CIO (who is not the Chief Instructional Officer) will probably either provide the IPv6 addresses or instructions on how to request them. As is the case with government organizations, if that office can’t help you, chances are you shouldn’t be using IPv6 addresses even if you can get them.