In a few weeks’ time, on 6 June 2012, it’s World IPv6 Launch Day. We will see some of the biggest sites on the internet such as Facebook and Google permanently enable IPv6.  But what is it and how will it affect us?



What is IPv6?

Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) is the next generation of the Internet Protocol. It was developed in 1994 in order to replace IPv4 when supplies of IP addresses ran out. IPv4 has been in use since 1982 and as is in the final stages of exhausting its unallocated address space.

IPv6 addresses are 128-bits compared to just 32-bits for IPv4. This means that the pool of available IP addresses is much larger now than it ever was, allowing the internet to continue to expand. The world launch of IPv6 represents a major milestone in its global deployment being critical to the Internet’s continued growth as a platform for innovation and economic development.

Why IPv6?

IPv4 was the first version of the protocol to be widely adopted. However, at just 32-bits, the 4.3 billion available addresses don’t even give one address to each living person. IPv6 was developed to allow the internet to continue to grow at pace – almost infinitesimally as, at 128-bits, IPv6 provides an almost limitless supply of IP addresses.

You can also count among IPv6’s advantages its simplicity to configure, its compatibility with 3G wireless broadband and its support of more efficient broadband usage.

How will IPv6 affect me?

End users will be unlikely to see much impact from the switch to IPv6. But website owners have many factors to consider.

IPv4 and IPv6 are essentially parallel networks which means that exchanging data between the two protocols will require special gateways. While most operating systems can support both, a lot of routers and servers don’t currently do so, adding difficulties to the upgrade. Not forgetting too the financial implications of any hardware and software updates. It’s easy to see why uptake of IPv6 has been slow.

If you have any questions regarding IPv6, Tim will be happy to discuss them. Simply give him a call on 0203 468 7010.

We also like these articles on IPv6: (including the answer to ‘What happened to IPv5!)




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