International banking group HSBC is upgrading its internet infrastructure to compete in Asia, while the US government has set a deadline of 2012 to upgrade its servers and services to IPv6, but experts warn that the UK could be left behind.
The UK government and industry will be incapable of competing in a globally connected world if it does not upgrade to IPv6, bankers and experts warned at the annual meeting of the Internet Society in London on 29 September.
Mark Reese, head of systems engineering at HSBC, pointed out that Asian banks are already using IPv6 to deliver streaming prices and hold video conferences with customers.
"Half of our customers are in the Asia region. So when I talk about competing, its very real for us because we are competing with the Bank of China which may well already have some of these services," he said.
"If I look over to what my competitors in Asia are doing, particularly what I hear is being delivered in places like Shanghai, we are looking at people who are delivering the next generation of trading services using the IPv6 infrastructure in their cities. They are doing stuff we would find challenging to do on our own internet."
Cherine Mohsen Chalaby, chairman of the UAE's Rasmala Investment Bank, who spent 22 years implementing trading systems for Accenture, told the conference that the UK is falling behind Asia.
"There's a looming infrastructural problem we will feel in the UK in the next three to four years. If we ignore these problems we are going to miss a huge opportunity to remain competitive, especially with what's happening in Asia," he said.
"Asia is saying: 'Connect to us with this new technology.' If Germany, the US, France and the Middle East invest and go ahead of us, our trading would be limited and our capacity would be limited."
Chalaby made these comments on the day that US president Barack Obama vowed that all US government internet operations would be upgraded to IPv6 by 2012.
"If I'm an Asian company looking at US and UK companies with similar products and pricing, but the US company can connect via IPv6, I can have almost a virtual meeting with them every day on a line that is secure and reliable. Then who will I be dealing with?" he said.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has identified the UK as one of the 10 countries with the most advanced internal internet infrastructure, and therefore among the most ready to adopt IPv6.
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