Due to the phenomenal growth of the Internet over the years, Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) address space is running out. As a result, countries are moving towards adopting IPv6, the newer version of IP addressing that offers a solution to this problem.

Last week, SPC entered into a partnership agreement with the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) to increase cooperation between them in the area of Internet-related issues, particularly those pertaining to IP addresses, such as assisting Pacific Island nations with their transition to IPv6.

The signing of the MOU took place on 10 April 2011 during the inaugural Pacific Internet Governance Forum in Noumea, New Caledonia.

Each device connected to the Internet must have a unique IP address in order to communicate with other systems on the Internet. The available addresses in the IPv4 range are running out because the number of devices which need internet connection is increasing and the current IPv4 range cannot sustain the demand for more addresses.

APNIC Director-General Paul Wilson said that the global community isfacing one of the biggest challenges in Internet evolution: the transition towards a new Internet generation, based on a much larger Internet addressing space, the IPv6 space.

'The Pacific has huge advantages in this area, as there are opportunities to leapfrog previous technologies and to start new networks in the IPv6 environment,' he said. 'Pushing forward the transition to IPv6 is APNIC's number one priority at the moment and, working together with SPC, I am sure we can make a difference where it matters.'

Director-General of SPC Dr Jimmie Rodgers shared how Internet connectivity was benefiting rural communities in Pacific Islands region.

'In Solomon Islands there is a rural school that at this point in time has a faster bandwidth than anything that I have seen in the capital Honiara through the simple Ku band mechanism facilitated by SPC,' he said. 'Internet connectivity has enabled rural clinics to have diagnoses from the hospital and has also enabled the rural business community to save money. Instead of going into town to buy their goods and pay their freights - now they order through Internet - it has allowed opportunity for e-commerce to happen.'

APNIC coordinates and manages the distribution of IP addresses (versions 4 and 6) in the Asia-Pacific region. It has 69 members in the Pacific region, 39 of whom have already received IPv6 allocations. SPC is an international intergovernmental organisation with a mandate to assist 22 countries and territories in the Pacific region.

SPC and APNIC have overlapping regional coverage and common characteristics, and the MoU seeks to maximise the combined impact of their work and outcomes, particularly those pertaining to Internet development through collaboration and joint efforts.

The MoU also recognises the various existing agreements, declarations and commitments in information communication technology (ICT) at the international and regional level that impact Pacific Island countries and territories. In particular, the MoU recognises the Framework for Action on ICT for Development in the Pacific, endorsed by the Pacific ICT ministers at their meeting in Nuku'alofa, Tonga in June 2010.

The ICT framework has set atarget of 2012 for all PICTsto have IPv6 transition plans in place.