IPv4 is (almost) dead! Long Live IPv6: Should we care?

The Internet currently uses IP version four (IPv4) addressing format that is now almost thirty years old…

So, the range of internet addresses within the IPv4 realm is expected to run out sometime in November 2011… The upper limit of addresses possible with IPv4 is 4,294,967,296. This seems massive, but for a variety of reasons, 14% of this total is currently unallocated (and will never be used…)

Some bright spark has calculated that the IPv6 address space can handle about 340 trillion, trillion, trillion addresses. That’s enough for everyone on the planet to have trillions of IP addresses without any fear of that pool being exhausted.  No worries there then!

Just as our phone numbers need to expand to cope with growing numbers of users, so the Internet has to expand to cope with its growth, and IPv6 is the way forward.

Facebook, Google and Yahoo! are participating in an Awareness Day 1 on 8 June, when their sites will be available on IPv6. None of us will see any difference, as they’ll be available the old way, too.

But while IPv6 is really a problem for the technology industry that we consumers barely have to think about, we’ll reap its benefits eventually, according to Simon McCalla at Nominet, the UK’s domain name registry. "There’ll be services available over IPv6 that were impossible to offer before," he says, "like smart-metering, where every hour, your electricity meter automatically negotiates the best-value electricity contract for you."

When every device has its own IPv6 address, remote communication between them will be a piece of cake. A television could talk to a fridge could talk to a phone, thousands of miles apart, without our having to supervise them. It might seem pointless now, but hey, that’s what they said about the internet…

Should we be worried, should we care? Will it make a difference to any installed CIC solution? And the answer to that is a clear and resounding “No! The impact on CIC will be negligible – an IPv4 network can talk to an IPv6 network using bridging solutions (network address translation) making it transparent to end users…

What do you think?


Christian Ehinmola


1 Google, Facebook and Yahoo to test new net address:  http://www.pcr-online.biz/news/35554/8th-of-June-is-World-IPv6-test-day