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Test challenges for the connected home: IPv6 and TR-09

Timothy Winters and Timothy Sheehan, University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory -October 16, 2012

The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) recently launched the Home Networking Consortium, which provides the broadband industry with a one-stop shop for both Broadband Forum TR-069 testing and Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) Ready carrier premises equipment (CPE) Logo testing.

As the world’s only official laboratory for all Broadband Forum TR-069 testing and the only approved laboratory for IPv6 Ready CPE Logo testing in North America, the UNH-IOL has unique insight into how testing these two technologies in CPE can help operators connect devices in the home to networks of the future and manage the devices for superior customer service. The experienced technical team also has an in-depth understanding of the issues that may arise when testing IPv6 and TR-069. In this article, we highlight the top testing challenges associated with each technology.

Top Five IPv6 CPE Testing Challenges

1. Interoperability testing requires multiple device configurations.
Creating the interoperability scenarios for IPv6 CPE testing requires support for multiple service provider network setups and configurations, and these networks also consist of many different types of equipment such as DSLAMs, CMTSs, edge routers, and relay agents. Additionally, the IPv6 Ready Logo Program states that a device must interoperate with four other IPv6 implementations (two hosts and two routers). This presents the challenge of supporting multiple device configurations, which requires documented device maintenance and configuration plans.

2. Supporting multiple WAN interfaces requires extended test support.
Since IPv6 CPE has the ability to support multiple WAN interfaces, both DSL and DOCSIS routers need to be verified in the same manner. This, in turn, requires multiple network layouts to support the different physical interfaces of each type of router. The test engineer must have the ability to troubleshoot connections and monitor traffic over both physical layers.

3. Testing must support a range of service-provider requirements.
CPE router implementations are often based on service provider requirements for IPv6. When a CPE router manufacturer is only providing devices to one service provider, they can create an implementation to match that service provider’s specifications. When varying requirements come from two different service providers, however, the manufacturer may need to create two separate CPE router implementations. It is possible that both service providers can be accommodated with the same hardware, but with different software. As an example, the vendor may have two implementations to support dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) for addressing and stateless addressing.  

In addition, CPE router manufacturers face a greater challenge providing routers directly to the consumers for installation, when the service provider network may be unknown. Manufacturers must adjust their product to deal with many different network deployments. This forces them to create a wide range of test cases that support many different service provider requirements and networking industry standards such as IETF RFC 6204. Ensuring the robustness of the industry requires constant contact with the IETF and operator community.

4. IPv6 DHCP servers require characterization prior to test.
An important piece of IPv6 networking equipment in a service provider’s network is the DHCP server. The IPv6 DHCP server gives a variety of information to the CPE router about its network settings, including DNS, prefix information, and lifetimes. For testing purposes, it is important to identify a DHCP server that supports all possible test scenarios. Once a DHCP server is found to support all of the functions, each configuration for the DHCP server must then be documented. This allows the test engineer to execute each test case with ease. A DHCP server may support a feature but not allow the test engineer to configure the required action to support the test case, however. Researching a DHCP server is an important part of test-case development and preparation and should be conducted prior to testing.

5. IPv6 deployment issues change standards and test requirements.
As new issues are uncovered during the deployment of IPv6, updates are made to IETF standards to further support IPv6 to the connected home. For example, a recent issue was identified when operators deployed DHCP on their test networks. The IPv6 CPE testing had to be modified to support evaluating a mechanism for lowering the amount of unanswered DHCP messages to manage the load of traffic received by the DHCP server. Continuing to adjust the testing requirements is necessary when following the deployment and standard progression for IPv6 CPE routers.


This test bed is part of the UNH-IOL’s 32,000+ square-foot facility, located in Durham, New Hampshire.

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