The Future is IPv6

A new version of the Internet will eventually alleviate the shortage of IP addresses


As of January 2008, the world population was estimated to be 6.6 billion and is projected to reach 9 billion by 2050. As our population expands and becomes more technologically advanced, more people will use and be connected through the Internet, cell phones and other devices. Why does this matter? The growth of our population and use of networked devices means better and more scalable networks are needed to handle the increased bandwidth of users.
Version 4 of the Internet Protocol, more commonly called IPv4, is the most widely used version of Internet Protocol and is a set of techniques used to connect and transmit data over the Internet. IPv4 was designed in the 1970s by a U.S. government organization that wanted new, lower-layer protocols because the existing layers had become functionally inadequate. Since IPv4 was published in 1981, IP has enabled significant development and greater communication worldwide; however, the growth of Internet use has slowly taken its toll on IPv4.
Computers and devices that need to connect through the Internet require IP addresses. As more people connect, the number of IP addresses left dwindle. Reports estimate that the pool of unallocated IP addresses will run out by 2010, which is why experts started developing a new version of the Internet, called “version 6,” or IPv6, back in the 1990s. During this time, two problems became apparent; IP addresses were being exhausted and IP routing tables were growing very large. In theory, IPv4 is supposed to handle four billion devices, however, the practical limit based on current usage is more like 250 million devices. From 1991 to 1995, routing tables doubled in size every 10 months, which put additional stress on router processing power and memory allocation. The short-term solution was small changes to the current IP, including a new allocation policy and private IP addresses set aside for intranets. The long-term solution was a new IP version with much bigger address space.
Over the last two decades, the world has experienced an explosion of new Internet appliances — from IP phones and laptops to devices like network cameras. All of these devices need IP addresses. Reports estimate 1.5 billion Internet appliances by 2010 compared with 44 million in 2003. That is a significant increase in seven years. Internet usage has also seen strong growth. In 2007, an estimated 1.2 billion were using the Internet with the world total penetration rate at just under 17 percent. American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), the regional registry of IP and ASN numbers for North America, South America, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa, has made it clear that the limited number of addresses currently available means the migration to IPv6 is necessary.

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