10 Jul

Calculating IPv6 subnets outside the nibble boundary

Often this comes into the subnetting discussion by my friends who are deploying IPv6 for the first time. How do you calculate subnets outside the 4-bit nibble boundary? This also happens to be one of starting points of APNIC IPv6 routing workshop where I occasionally instruct as community trainer.

 

So what is a Nibble boundary?

In IPv6 context, it refers to 4 bit and any change in multiple of 4 bits is easy to calculate. Here’s how: Let’s say we have a allocation: 2001:db8::/32. Now taking slices from this pool within 4 bit boundry is quite easy.

/36 slices (1 x 4 bits)
2001:db8:0000::/36
2001:db8:1000::/36
2001:db8:2000::/36
and so on…

 

/40 slices (2 x 4 bits)
2001:db8:0000::/40
2001:db8:0100::/40
2001:db8:0200::/40

 

/44 slices (3 x 4 bits)
2001:db8:0000::/40
2001:db8:0010::/40
2001:db8:0020::/40

 

/48 slices (4 x 4 bits)
2001:db8:0000::/40
2001:db8:0001::/40
2001:db8:0002::/40

 

Clearly, it seems much simple and that is one of the reasons we often strongly recommend subnetting within the nibble boundary and not outside for all practical use cases. However understanding why it’s easy this way, as well as things like how to subnet outside nibble boundary for cases, say if you are running a very large network and have a /29 allocation from RIR.

 

Going back to fundamentals

IPv6 address consists of 128 bit addressing and is represented in hexadecimal.
IPv6 address:  _ _ _ _: _ _ _ _ :_ _ _ _ :_ _ _ _ :_ _ _ _ :_ _ _ _ :_ _ _ _ :_ _ _ _ 

Each dash here represents is written in hexadecimal and represents 4 bits, thus 4+4+4+4 = 16 bits in each block and 16 x 8 = 128 bit addressing. This brings that magical 4-bit nibble boundary.

So if we expand 4 bits into binary, we can have following combinations for each “dash” in above representation:

 

Here I have simply represented 4 bits from lowest to highest. Remember just like in the decimal system with base 10 (which we all are familiar with), we follow same logic in binary system where we start from lowest (0 0 0 0) and go to next digital (0 0 0 1) and now since it’s base 2, we go to next logical number which is (0 0 1 0) and so on. Now when we modify these 4 bits together, we do not have to worry about the decimal part but as soon as we try to go inside the 4-bit zone, we have to deal with the decimal counting.
So let’s take a real-world case of American Cable & broadband provider Comcast. They have an allocation 2001:558::/31:

 

What exactly /31 means here?

Going back by CIDR fundamentals /31 means 31 bits are reserved and remaining (128-31 i.e 97 bits) are available. How can they generate /32 or say /36 out of this allocation?

2001:558::/31
Writing in expanded form:

2001:0558::/31
(16 bits + 15 bits)

In above, first 16 bits are reserved for 2001 but for next part “0558” only 15 bits are reserved. Let’s expand the 2nd block further:

0 5 5 8 – 15 bits reserved

Here “0” gives 4 bits (and in binary is 0 0 0 0)
5 gives 4 bits (and in binary is 0 1 0 1)
Next 5 also reserves 4 bits
So far we are at (4 + 4 + 4) 12 bit count. Now that 15 bits are reserved, basically from “8” 3 bits are reserved and rest 1 bit is available for modification.

Let’s expand 8:

8 in hexadecimal = 1 0 0 0 in binary. Here 1 0 0  is reserved (each representing one binary bit and hence the three bits) and 4th bit can vary.
Hence possible combinations in binary are:
1 0 0 0
1 0 0 1

The remaining first three bits (1 0 0 ) cannot be altered as they are part of network mask. Now 1 0 0 0 in binary gives us “8” in hexadecimal and 1 0 0 1 gives us “9”. Thus possible /32s out of this /31 allocation are:

2001:558::/31 = 2001:558::/32  and 2001:559::/32

 

Similarly to calculate /36 slices from it, we can basically vary this 1 bit (as we just did) as well as next 4 bits altogether (5-bit variation). Hence possible /36 slices are:

2001:558:0000::/36
2001:558:1000::/36
2001:558:2000::/36
2001:558:3000::/36

and so on until 2001:558:f000::/36 (16 pools here)
and next,
2001:559:0000::/36
2001:559:1000::/36
2001:559:2000::/36
2001:559:3000::/36

and so on until 2001:559:f000::/36 (16 pools here). Thus we get these 32 /36 blocks out of /31 allocations.

 

That’s all about IPv6 subnetting. Once you understand this part, you should be just fine with subnetting in the future. 🙂

07 Jul

Indian telecom voice market and updates

 

Suddenly the voice market in India is becoming very interesting. Earlier it was the case of Jio (and competitors) launching unlimited voice plans and now it’s the case of Govt. of India permitting IP telephony.

IP Telephony i.e networks where telephony happens over IP (not to be confused with IP to IP calls but) where IP to PSTN interconnects happen. Till a few months ago IP telephony (or IP-PSTN) interconnection was allowed only under certain conditions like doing it inside a building only for purpose of call centres (with OSP license) or running SIP trunks over private networks. Things like termination of calls originated from the apps was not allowed (where IP-PSTN was happening within India) as well as DID or Direct Inward Dialing numbers were not allowed. There were even cases where apps/businesses had to shut down due to confusing regulation. Here’s a nice article from Medianama about it. But all those were things of past.

In May Wifi calling or calls via Wifi where wifi is used loosely and it’s essentially called via any sort of Internet connections were permitted (news here). Later after TRAI’s clarification it now has been formally allowed. While it may not look as attractive as it should have been in the age of WhatsApp calling (IP to IP, not PSTN mess involved!), it still is quite interesting and going to bring some major change.

 

Here some of the upcoming things we all can expect to see in the next few months:

  1. All key operators will launch native wifi call offload for flagship phones (Google Pixel, iPhone, Samsung Galaxy’s etc). This will offload a hell lot of voice traffic from the cell towards home wifi. Various fixed wired ISPs would now be carrying a significant chunk of voice traffic.
  2. All key operators will launch an app for making phone calls and it would not only be for their users but also for other users. So while at this point one has to have a SIM card from the provider, next it would be sim card as well as “virtual connection” in form of a sort of KYC followed by an app essentially making use of SIP for call routing.
  3. SIP trunks over IP networks will become common and that would be huge. In present times if someone needed 5-10 connections for official use with call haunting etc, it was either POTS analogue phones or PRIs (yuck!) or SIP trunks running over the private network. Going forward now it would be SIP trunks offered over the regular internet all would be facilitated via closed systems (apps and portals) as well as open systems based on SIP. This would help significantly to businesses which have direct customer interaction.
  4. Market of DIDs or 10 digit virtual phone numbers will become very common. Telcos would be offering it directly and various platforms like Microsoft’s Skype, Google Voice, Vonage etc would also join in and resell those.

 

An interesting case of above is BSNL’s recent announcement of their platform “Wings”. Though based on their usual track record of totally screwing up, I would keep my expectations low, but still offering seems interesting and gives an idea of the updated regulatory framework.