The EU-China-FIRE (ECIAO) project supports cooperation between Europe and China on mutually beneficial activities for future internet research and experimentation. The aim is to make the Future Internet a truly global success.

ECIAO currently focuses on two key areas: test beds and best practice in IPv6 deployment. More specifically, it encourages the federation of test beds, promotes the exchange of experience and supports the establishment of interconnected IPv6 pilots involving Europe and China.


The Chinese Ministry of Education, together with China’s Science and Technology Center, Tsinghua University, the Beijing University of Post & Telecommunications and more than 120 Chinese universities, set up an organisation called the Internet Innovation Union (IIU) in September 2012.

The primary objective of the IIU is to create a large-scale, networked experimental facility throughout its member universities by linking up network equipment and test beds. At the end of 2013, the IIU involved more than 40 member universities with nearly 500 interconnected network devices, and its scale continues to expand. Like FIRE, the IIU has built up a platform for online resource reservation and experimentation in order to achieve test bed federation.

Known as Dragonlab, which is short for Distributed Research Academic Gigabits Open Network Lab, this platform enables users to easily identify and reserve the devices they need, design topology, run experiments and receive results. The IIU strives to become a worldwide federated test bed project with an influence equivalent to FIRE and GENI (Global Environment for Network Innovations).


A number of initiatives and factors promote the deployment of IPv6 in China. They include the development of the Internet of Things, the increasing use of mobile devices as reflected in the adoption of Verizon 4G deployment with IPv6, and China’s 12th five-year plan.

The next few years will be critical for IPv6 development in China and extremely promising for the IPv6 industry as a whole. At the end of 2013, 9 million users had IPv6 access, and by the end of 2015, this figure is likely to reach 25 million.

China, due to its size, is thus expected to pioneer large-scale IPv6 deployment. Europe, due to its diversity, has gained experience in complex deployment issues including the transition from IPv4 to IPv6.

Because of this, efforts by Europe and China to build a platform together for the exchange of best practices will help globalise the use of IPv6. The EU-China FIRE project has therefore created an EU-China IPv6 “Best Practice” Expert Group that will support and encourage global IPv6 adoption.

One of the first successful examples of a use case has been highlighted by the expert group concerned with the deployment of IPv6 at the University of the Free State (UFS) in South Africa. This project involved a complete re-design of the campus network. It resulted in innovations in terms of VoIP and multicast and led to a 70% performance increase at a cost of less than $50 000.


EU-China-FIRE has set up a collaborative space on its website for discussions related to the future internet. It also operates a helpdesk service and broadcasts news items via the usual social network channels.

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