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The Use of Translators as a

co-existence strategy for IPv4 - IPv6

transition for 3G evolution

voice services through VOIP. The mobile

vendors have planned long term strategies for 3G
In the coming decade, we are said to confront evolution. The most popular path is through
the final frontiers of the mobile revolution. The GSM-GPRS-EDGE. This has allowed gradual
3G or the Third Generation mobile technology is transition, giving enough time for development,
expected to fulfil the idea of location and data deployment and testing of better technologies.
independent communication. It is almost now
clear that the packet switched (PS) technology This evolution is as much a challenge to the
will dominate the technological developments in mobile sector as it is to the networking sector.
the mobile sector. The packet switched The advent of 3G technologies would rather blur
technology would not only integrate the mobile the line of distinction between the two. While the
infrastructure with the already existing Internet mobile sector moves towards 3G, the Internet
backbone, but also provide the facility of infrastructure would be moving from IPv4 to
“always on“ connection. These two features are IPv6. Each of these transitions are essential for
seen to be two great leaps forward in the the other, they rather form a symbiotic
direction of 3G. The Packet switched technology combination. The 3G technologies would need
would not only enhance the existing data an IP address each, for all of its mobile
messaging services, but also provide alternate terminates. The huge requirement of IP

addresses can only be provided by the 128 bit between the two, forms an essential feature of
IPv6. So the implementation of 3G technologies the evolution. This paper discusses the
would speed up the IPv4 to IPv6 transition and coexistence strategies for IPv4 and IPv6 in
vice versa. The mobility management too is general, and its specific applications in the
essentially done through the Mobile IP (MIP), mobile technologies.
stressing the need further for IP integration into Further it discusses the implementation of two
3G. translation methods used for coexistence
between IPv4 and IPv6 .
There will be no sudden changeover from
IPv4 to IPv6. Hence methods of coexistence



2. NAPT – PT 4







3) Translation : This method is based on
the header conversions, mostly the
translation of source and destination IP
addresses that are carried by the
The two translation methods of coexistence
discussed in this paper are
I. The Network Address Port Translation –
Protocol Translation (NAPT –PT)
II. Transport Relay Translator (TRT)

Both of the above are the ‘middle box’ based

methods. The essential difference between the
two is the layer at which they work. While the
former works at the data link layer the latter
works at the transport layer.

NAPT-PT [4] provides a combination
of port multiplexing, address translation and
IPv6/IPv4 protocol translation. It resides within
an IP router, situated at the boundary between an
IPv4 network (say the Internet backbone) and an
IPv6 network (say the mobile network). By
installing NAPT-PT between an IPv6 network
IP COEXISTENCE STARTEGIES : and the Internet, all Internet users are given
access to the IPv6 network without host
The different methods for coexistence are modification. Equally, all hosts on the IPv6
1) Dual IPv4/IPv6 Stack : Dual Stack network (the 3G mobile) are given access to the
provides the facility of both the Internet with a pool of IPv4 addresses.
protocols in terminals & routers, thus
facilitating tunneling. Suppose that some applications carry
2) Tunneling : Here, encapsulation and network addresses in payloads. Because NAPT-
decapsulation are used at terminal PT does not snoop the payload, it can be

application unaware. So, NAPT-PT requires
some Application Level Gateway (ALG) which
are application specific programs that allow an
IPv6 node to communicate with an IPv4 node
and vice versa on a particular application level
program. That is, ALG could work in
conjunction with NAPT-PT to provide support
for many such applications.

Figure 1: Connection of NAPT-PT

Implementation : port numbers from the arrived packets
are matched with the records of the
The implementation of this model requires no NAPT-PT table and manipulated
change in either host or the router accordingly.
configurations[3]. The system that • If the protocols that carry the address or
works as NAPT has two interfaces as in the address related information, are to be
figure 1. It uses multi-homing. One Ethernet made available, then it needs an ALG.
interface is connected to the IPv6 network while We have restricted our implementation
the other to the router that routes the packet to to only HTTP.
the (IPv4) internet. The implementation is • The two processes work in totally
discussed below : - different memory segments. Hence the
• Two simultaneous processes on the variables in the two processes would
NAPT-PT system continuously sniff for not correspond to the same location.
packets on the two respective interfaces. Since both the processes need to access
When a packet arrives, it passes the the table, the inter-process
same for processing. This is done by communication technique comes handy.
Packet capturing utilities. Note that, as This is done by storing the table in the Shared
we need to extract the addresses and the Memory area so that it can be accessed by both
port numbers from the packets, the the processes. The following blocks show the
packet needs to be captured at the Data- implementation of the two processes mentioned
link layer itself. Since only those above.
packets destined to reach this system Process 1 :
are to be accessed, promiscuous mode is When a packet is destined to reach a terminal
not used. outside the LAN (the IPv6 network) , the
• The NAPT maintains a record table that following manipulations are made before routing
has the entries for all the connections the packet.
through it. The extracted addresses and • search is made in the records to find if

Figure 4: TCP UDP relay on the assigned port number. It is
effectively the port de-multiplexing that
the connection already exists. is taking place here.
• If yes, the source IP address is replaced • If not, the packet is discarded.
by that of the NAPT-PT and the source
port number is replaced by the port
number already assigned to this The TCP UDP Relay Translator (TRT) [5] is a
‘connection’. transport layer system that performs IPv4 – IPv6
• If no, a new entry is made into the table translation and vice versa. It is similar to NAPT-
and an unused port number is assigned PT in its application. But here, rather than
to it. capturing individual packets at the data link
• The packet IP header is now layer, the data is transferred by establishing
manipulated, i.e the IPv4 addresses are connections at the transport layer. Figure 4
now changed with the IPv6 address(es) illustrates the concept better.
assigned to the NAPT-PT system and
the port numbers are replaced with the Whenever a host from the IPv6 network tries to
already assigned port numbers. initialize a connection with a remote host in the
internet, the connection is accepted by a listening
Process 2 :
socket at the TRT system. Once the connection
For the packets that arrive from outside the LAN
is accepted, the TRT in turn sends a request to
i.e from the global IPv4 network, the following
establish a connection with the remote server.
manipulations are necessary before they are
Hence an indirect connection is established
passed on to the LAN system.
between the hosts through the TRT.

• Search is made in the records to find if

the connection already exists.
• If exists, the destination IP address
which is that of the NAPT-PT is
replaced by that of the local host, based

Implementation :
The implementation of the TRT is similar to that COMPARISON BETWEEN TRT AND
of the NAPT-PT, but there are glaring NAPT- PT :
differences too. Structure : The basic difference between the too
The TRT also has more than one simultaneous translators is the layer at which they work. As
processes running as in a server. The discussed earlier
parent process has a listening socket
that waits for a connection. When a
connection is requested, a child process the TRT works at the transport layer while the
is forked off which manages the setup NAPT-PT works at the Data
of the ‘indirect connection’. link layer. This makes the two to differ in many

Speed : The overhead in NAPT- PT is
When the connection is closed the child process theoretically less than the TRT, but the speed is
too is killed.
highly implementation dependent.
• The TRT has to have a mechanism which Security : Both the systems compromise on
distinguishes the various application level security, while TRT completely disallows
protocols like HTTP, FTP etc. This is security measures like IPsec, the addresses in
needed for the extraction of the information the packets cannot be encrypted if the NAPT –
of the remote host, as the IP address may not PT is used [3].
be directly available. Probability of errors : NAPT –PT increases the
• Further the TRT needs to extract and probability of mis-addressing [3] , while this is
sometimes also resolve the destination IP avoided in the TRT as a reliable connection itself
address. Our implementation is for the exists.
HTTP. It can similarly be extended to the
other protocols too.

that the mobile networks would move towards
Figure 6 : GPRS network as an example for
mobile network using IP IPv6 faster than the Internet backbone. The
translators provide a coexistence strategy for the
TRANSLATORS IN THE two versions of the protocols till the IPv6
becomes prevalent in the Internet backbone.
Consider the GPRS network shown in the figure.
Another aspect that needs to be dealt while using
The figure shows how a translator is connected
the translators mostly the NAPT-PT in the
between the IPv6 mobile network and the
mobile networks is that the (Session Initiation
Internet ( IPv4 network). It also shows how
Protocol ) SIP [6] to inter-work with the Mobile
mobility management is done using mobile IP.
IP[1]. This requires a specific ALG that can
The SGSN ( Serving GPRS Support Node)
interpret the SIP signaling.
essentially looks after the issues concerning
mobility management. The GGSN (Gateway
GPRS Support Node) connects the network to
the external networks including the Internet.
From outside ( i.e from the IP networks point of
view) the GPRS network is another IP sub-
network and the GGSN looks like a IP router.
One of the main advantage of integrating the
mobile network into the IP network is mobility
management. The mobility management using
MIPv6 provides “always on” connection.
Although Mobile IPv4 can be used for mobility
management, but the Address Depletion Problem
makes the use of IPv6 inevitable. So it is seen


1. IEEE communications Magazine, January

1) IPv6 is a strategic issue making its own
2004, page 113 to 120, “IP Multimedia
scope in the global network system. It is
Services : Analysis of Mobile IP and SIP
experiencing its needs and at the same time
interactions in 3G networks” by Stefano M.
the research community is working on its
Faccin, Nokia Research Center, Poornima
Lalwaney, Nokia Mobile Phones, Basavaraj
2) IPv6 is perfectly hailed as ‘evolutionary not
Patil, Nokia Networks.
revolutionary’. The IPv4 – IPv6 transition is
2. IEEE communications Magazine, January
expected to be eventual rather than sudden
2004, page 88 to 96, “IPv6 integration and
in the Internet backbone. But the 3G
coexistence strategies for Next- Generation
technologies would inevitably need IPv6.
Networks “ by Mallik Tatipamula and
Hence there will be a time period wherein
Patrick Grossetete, Cisco Systems Hiroshi
both the versions of the IP need to coexist.
Esaki, University of Tokyo.
3) The translators provide a coexistence
3. RFC 1631,
strategy for IPv4 - IPv6 transition.
4. RFC 2766, Network Address Translation -
4) Although they provide a temporary solution,
Protocol Translation (NAT-PT), G. Tsirtsis
they need to be eliminated in the long run,
BT, P. Srisuresh, Campio Communications,
due to the overhead that the translators add
February 2000.
in terms of speed and also due to the
5. RFC 3142 , An IPv6-to-IPv4 Transport
security constraints that they impose.
Relay Translator, J. Hagino and K.
Yamamoto, IIJ Research Laboratory, June
6. RFC 3261, Session Initiation Protocol, J.
Rosenberg t, H. Schulzrinne, G camarillo, A
Johnston, J Peterson, R sparks, M. Handlsy,
E Schooler, June 2002