Today marks the world roll out of IPv6 (Internet Protocol Version 6). This kinda crept up on me, chiefly I think since it doesn’t really affect us much. Having said that I thought I’d better do my homework in case any one asks.
Ok so what’s IPv6?
IPv6 is essentially a new internet standard for traffic, which is making it possible to ‘re-address’ the entire internet, as the current version (IPv4) is pretty much out of addresses.
Every device connected to the internet has a unique IP address just like a phone number, and when they run out, very simply put, you can’t get a connection. If you are in the UK, you may remember the Big Number Change in the 1990’s when we ran out of phone numbers. This is exactly the same for the Internet.
We actually ran out of IP addresses?
Yep almost. This is largely due to the fact that when the internet was invented, no-one ever imagined how explosive its growth would be, and in particular the number of new connected devices like mobile phones and other portable gizmos. We had the capacity for 4 billion connected devices, but it’s pretty much all gone.
You have to bear in mind that when the internet began back in the 80’s, it was actually an experiment, and it’s never ended.
So these new IP addresses – how many are they making?
340 trillion trillion trillion.
In numbers, that’s: 340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
In fact it’s enough for everyone on earth to have a few billion IP addresses each.
Sounds like they’ve got it covered then – will it affect me?
Yep I think they have. And most likely, no it won’t affect you.
Both IPv4 and IPv6 are designed to operate alongside each other until the transition is complete. If you do have issues, you’re most likely to find problems if you’re using an old or incompatible router but at the time of writing this I couldn’t find a definitive list.
Many large websites are launching IPv6 today, including the likes of Google and Facebook. To see if you are already using IPv6 you can use this link to the Google IPv6 Test page.
Google also produced a simple explanation of IPv6 here.
Again, if you experience issues, it’s most likely your local configuration working with the new standard. Google have produced a clean, simple set of IPv6 FAQ’s here.
Also you can read more about IPv6 here on the official site.