Firms test Net's readiness

Firms test Net's readiness

The pool of Internet addresses used for most traffic today is near exhaustion, but adopting IPv6 — a new Internet protocol with 4 billion times as many addresses — has been slow despite the fact that it is more than a decade old.

Publishers and Internet service providers have been waiting for the other to make the first move, and workarounds including translation services and address-sharing have become common. But the prospect of large numbers of modern IPv6 networks coming online — especially in the developing world where systems based on the previous protocol, IPv4, are not widespread — is beginning to push organisations into action.

“What’s at stake is the future scalability and utility of the Internet,” says Matthew Ford, technology program manager of the Internet Society, a non-profit group dedicated to the open development of the Internet, which is organising World IPv6 Day.

“IPv6 is fundamentally about allowing the Internet to scale to meet the expectations and demands of a global population of 7 billion, coupled with increased expectations of how many devices are expected to be able to connect to the Internet,” he says.

IPv4’s specifications were drawn up in 1981, when the population of the world was 4.5 billion and the personal computer age was just dawning with the launch of the IBM PC. It allowed for 4.3 billion IP addresses.

For 24 hours on Wednesday, websites with more than 1 billion combined visits a day will join distribution companies to enable IPv6 on their main services. It will be the first global test of IPv6 “in the wild.” Previous tests in Germany and Norway showed positive results.

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