By the end of 2005, China will have invested CNY1.4 billion to build a commercial IPv6 backbone network to connect all its major cities. The IPv6 network will be the largest in the world and will start full operation in 2006, with tests to begin next month.

China is facing a serious shortage of Internet protocol (IP) addresses. Its IP addresses account for less than 2% of the world's total, despite its large population.

There are five telecom operators participating in the construction of the IPv6 network. They are China Telecom, China Netcom, China Unicom, China Mobile, China Railcom and China Education and Research Network (CERNET). All of them, except for China Telecom, have completed their project bidding. China Telecom's IPv6 equipment bidding is scheduled next month.

Chinese technology officials lament that even after the IPv6 network is constructed, China will still be in an unfavorable position in regards to IP addresses. Zhao Houlin, director of the Global Telecom Alliance Telecom Standard Bureau, suggested this week during an IPv6 conference in Beijing that the Telecom Alliance adopt a system by which IP addresses are allocated based on each country's population and economic level.


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