Public awareness of IPv6 is limited in Hong Kong while technical knowledge on the new Internet protocol is lacking, according to results of a survey released on Wednesday -- the day of World IPv6 Launch.

The online survey -- done in the first quarter of the year by the City University of Hong Kong -- was commissioned by the Internet Society Hong Kong.

Although 71% of the more than 600 respondents have basic knowledge of IPv4, only 24% of them are familiar with IPv6, survey results indicate.

Among all the industries, manufacturing, restaurants and hotels, and community, social and personal services got the lowest score in IPv6 awareness, according to the person-in-charge of the survey, Daniel Tse, Department of Information Systems, City University of Hong Kong.

The survey suggests a huge lack of preparation among individual and business users, he pointed out. Although 63% of respondents agree that local enterprises must switch to IPv6 urgently, only 9.7% are ready to deploy IPv6, said Tse, adding that more than 90% of respondents have no plans to apply IPv6.

APNIC: 0.6% of Hong Kong Net users IPv6-enabled

Geoff Huston, chief scientist APNIC (Asia Pacific Network Information Centre) Hong Kong also pointed out there is only 0.6% of Internet users in Hong Kong are IPv6-enabled as of May 2012.

The percentage is compared with 1.2% in China and 4% in France, he said.

Huston noted the higher IPv6 adoption rate in France is a result of the local ISP pushing the services. In China -- where the rapid online development caused the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses -- has also resulted a higher adoption of IPv6, he added.

APNIC -- a non-profit organization -- is one of five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) charged with ensuring the fair distribution and responsible management of IP addresses and related resources.

ISPs are 'partial' in providing IPv6 services

The low IPv6 adoption in Hong Kong is a result of ISPs' selective service provision, according to Internet Society Hong Kong founding chairman Charles Mok. "Most local ISPs only provide IPv6 services to some of the commercial customers," said Mok. "Usually these customers are larger firms that are powerful enough to fight for the services they want. Most local SMBs still have no access to IPv6 services."

He added that if local SMBs want to be IPv6-enabled at the moment, they have to take extra steps to re-configure their routers and to adopt tunneling technologies.

Unlike Singapore where the government can push IPv6 adoption via regulations, the Hong Kong the government can only "encourage" ISPs to start providing IPv6 services by generating demand, Mok pointed out.

Some of the local government's initiatives to create IPv6 demand include moving 200 government Web sites to the new protocol and providing IPv6 support in its next generation Government Wi-Fi program to be launched in December.

"In France, the rapid adoption is a result of the local ISPs leveraging the v6RD (IPv6 rapid adoption) mechanism -- a translation technology that allows IPv4 users to access IPv6-enabled Websites," Mok said.

If a company can't get ISP help, it can still jump the IPv6 bandwagon by letting an IPv6-enabled service provider host their Websites, according to him. "This allows users or customers to access your Websites via the new Internet protocol," Mok said.

He added that there are currently two Hong Kong providers -- Udomain and Easylink -- that support IPv6 web hosting.

To help the public and SMBs ride the IPv6 wave, the Internet Society of Hong Kong launched Wednesday a guide dubbed "All about IPv6". The guide contains essential information about IPv6 as well as specific steps on how to enable it at home and on business networks.