IT Chimes Blog

Internal Protocol Version 6 (IPv6)

June 21, 2011

A recent news report caught my eye, piqued my interest and ignited a spark to find out more about running out of room on the internet. In an interview with the co-founder of Casaba Security (a team of security pioneers who research, develop and implement solutions to internet security problems), Sam Bucholtz told viewers that reports about how we are getting very close to running out of addresses for all mobile devices we are now using is true. Between cell phones, Blackberries, iPads, iPods, laptop computers and the myriad of other devices we need to connect with the internet, there are only about 2% of the potential addresses under the current internet protocol still available. Internet addresses are needed for all these devices to talk with one another and are based on a 32bit value which limits the total number of devices that can “talk” or be connected to the internet to 4 billion. The internet protocol currently in use is the Internet Protocol version 4, or IPv4 and plans are underway to migrate to a new protocol, IPV6. It is estimated that every person on earth could have multiple devices and never come close to using all available addresses. While IPv6 has been implemented on all major operating systems IPv6 is not backwards compatible with IPv4. For example, when a new version of a computer program comes out, it is usually able to use files developed in the older version. This is not possible with IPv4 and Ipv6. Ipv6 creates what amounts to a parallel, independent network. However, modern computer operating systems are capable of implementing dual-protocol software for transparent access to both networks .What needs to happen now as we run out of room on the internet is that the content about the new internet protocol needs to be communicated. To facilitate that, the Internet Society is supporting World IPv6 Day, an event organized by the Internet Society and several large content providers to test public IPv6 roll out. Changing over to IPv6 could be expensive and complicated. A similar situation recently occurred with the transition to digital television. For years digital TV was available along with analog although with limited content. As interest and content grew, TV stations began simulcasting both analog and digital programming. People began buying digital TVs. The move to all digital required new TVs, converters, adapters, etc., and while it was expensive, the move has been made. This IPv6 Test Day will offer similar simultaneous broadcasting in both protocols. It looks like we can expect a move over to the new protocols in the near future as we run out of room on the internet. A crisis does not appear imminent, but there are not sufficient internet addresses to support the expanding mobile communications we are now demanding.

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