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World IPv6 Day: A New Generation of IP Addresses

8 June 2011 by Jenn Granger

What is IPv6?

IPv6 is the ‘next generation’ of IP addresses, developed in 1994. At 32 bits, there are 4,294,967,296 IPv4 addresses – not even enough for every person in the world to have one. In comparison, IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses, producing 3.4 x 1038 in total.

Even though it has been clear for a long time that IPv6 would have to be implemented, the switch is not an easy one to make. IPv4 and v6 are essentially parallel networks, so to exchange data between the two protocols requires special gateways. Operating systems and other software has, in recent years, been updated to support both protocols. However, hardware such as routers and servers need to be replaced to support IPv6 and the cost of this is significant.

What is World IPv6 Day?

With the last remaining blocks of IPv4’s sold in February, the need for organisations to facilitate the switch has become more urgent.

Today, major corporations such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook, along with over 400 others, will offer their content over IPv6 for 24 hours. The idea is to not only test their own implementation of IPv6, but also to encourage others to prepare for the switch.

The companies have also been able to have some fun with their IP addresses: The BBC IPv6 address is 2001:4b10:bbc::1 and Facebook is 2629::1c18:0:face:booc:0:1.

No deadline

IPv4 will continue to work for at least the next decade so people are not going to wake up one morning to find a ‘broken’ internet.

This lack of deadline does mean that many companies are putting off the expense of upgrading. However, judging by the success of World IPv6 day so far, I expect to see a spike in adoption.


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