What is IPv6?


Every device that connects to the internet is assigned an Internet Protocol (IP) Address. This includes every smartphone, tablet, computer, server and more. Just like a street address (or a snowflake!), each public IP address is unique, which allows data to find its way to the right location.

Since the 1980s, every internet-connected device was assigned an IPv4 address–that is, an Internet Protocol version 4 address. The method in which an IPv4 address is calculated only allows for a maximum of approximately 4.3 billion possible unique combinations. As you can imagine, that limit is being pushed, which paved the way to finding a better solution. IPv6 has the capacity to support 3.4×1038 addresses, which is an obvious and significant improvement over IPv4.

As you can imagine, changing a major component of the underlying structure of the internet–one that’s been around since the internet began–is a daunting task. Many service providers and networks have been transitioning to IPv6, and in June 2012, several ISPs took part of World IPv6 Launch, an event geared toward making the switch and raising awareness. According to Wikipedia, at the time of the Launch, the IPv6 adoption rate consisted of 0.2% of all internet traffic. As of today, that number is up to 1%.

In addition to the larger address space, IPv6 offers several other improvements over IPv4, such as tighter security, enhanced privacy, built-in multicasting, auto-configuration, larger packets and more. So why is the adoption rate of IPv6 only 1%? Well, not every device supports it, which often means that the networks they are connected to have not yet made the switch either. The issue of compatibility is largely a software issue. While most hardware could support IPv6 with a firmware upgrade, older hardware devices will more likely be replaced instead making the transition even slower.

Does your network support IPv6 and is it ready to make the transition? Every major operating system and smartphone carrier have already included support for IPv6, so you may be closer than you think. Minneapolis-based OAC Technology has been helping small- to medium-sized businesses plan and administer their network environments for 10 years. We can help your technology meet your business needs while maximizing your IT dollars at the same time. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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