??Here’s something that most internet users don’t know: we’re running out of web addresses, and we’re running out of them fast. Under the system currently in place the last web addresses will go in November of this year which will spell the end for version 4 of the addressing scheme (or IPv4).
Fortunately there’s quite an easy solution in the form of IPv6 which is essentially the sixth version of the Internet addressing scheme, and some of the biggest names on the net in the form of Google, Yahoo and Facebook have committed to taking part in a “test flight” on the 8th June that will precede a general rollout later this year.
Before we look at the practicalities of the changeover it’s worth explaining what we are actually talking about here, and the difference between IPv4 and IPv6. When we talk about web addresses in this context we are not referring to the domain name that we normally use to refer to locations on the web, rather the unique numerical address that your computer will use to communicate with the server – the IP address.
IPv4 has been in operation since 1981 and whilst it was the fourth revision in the development of the Internet Protocol it was the first to be widely deployed, but due to a slight anomaly in the naming system (due to a late 1970s protocol named ST) it will be succeeded by IPv6.
The problem as arisen because in the 1970s when IPv4 was being developed no one envisaged that the internet would become so popular, and it was considered that the 4billion addresses that IPv4 offered through its 32bits would be more than enough – and so the 128bit IPv6 was born which will offer 2128 addresses, or 3.4×1038 , or 340 Sextillion. You’d have thought that would last us a while.
Anyway back on topic and the Internet Society are organising the World IPv6 Day on June 8th which these companies will be participating in, and have also provided a webpage for you to test for “IPv6 readiness” and gives you some feedback as to how prepared you are for the switchover. It is definitely worth looking at, as whilst there are no problems anticipated for me on World IPv6 day I am only 7/10 ready for when publishers offer IPv4 and IPv6, and only 0/10 for when publishers are forced to move to IPv6 only.
But as work intensive as this sounds there really is no reason to worry just yet: a Google spokesman has said that they anticipate only 0.05% of users will have any problems on World IPv6 Day which is there to iron out any of the problems that the system has in preparation for the ‘grand rollout’. Unfortunately some people will have some connection problems, but this will be down to “misconfigured or misbehaving home network devices”.
So whilst you don’t need to worry yet, it’s worth keeping an eye out for developments. Last November Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the internet, gave the warning that if we did not move quickly to adopt IPv6 “turbulent times” could be ahead and whilst people will be working hard to avoid that, the slow uptake by publishers could leave some problems in the pipeline for the future!
Via – BBC