Four ways IPv6 will save the Internet

With only a 12-month supply of the common IPv4 addresses left, the world needs to quickly embrace IPv6

The world is almost out of IP addresses--or at least it's almost out of the IPv4 addresses that IT admins and users are most familiar with. Fortunately, IPv6 has been developed to exponentially expand the pool of available IP addresses while also providing a few other benefits.

To address issues with the current IP protocol in use (IPv4), and to add features to improve the protocol for the future, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has introduced IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6). Let's look at a few ways that IPv6 will come to the rescue and save the Internet.

1. More Addresses: IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses rather than the current 32-bit addresses allowing for an exponential increase in the number of available IP addresses. Network routing experts have been aware of the limitations of IPv4 addressing since the 1980's--before most of the world even knew the Internet existed, and before the Web became ubiquitous.

With 32-bits, IPv4 only allows for approximately 4.3 billion IP addresses. Since every Web-connected device--server, desktop, notebook, smartphone, tablet PC, and more--must have an IP address, and since the Web has exploded in countries like China and India, the world is rapidly approaching the end of the available IPv4 addresses.

With 128-bits to use for creating unique addresses, IPv6 is capable of an insane number of IP addresses far exceeding the demands of today's Internet and Web connected devices. Rather than 4.3 billion address limitation of IPv4, IPv6 has enough addresses that every single person on the planet could have billions upon billions assigned to them personally.

2. Backwards Compatible: IPv6 is backwards compatible with IPv4 so that different networks or hardware manufacturers can choose to upgrade at different times without disrupting the current flow of data on the Internet. Given the world's dependence on the Internet and Web for news, commerce, public safety, national security, and more this is an important feature of IPv6.

Eventually, all IPv4 equipment will be replaced by attrition and IPv6 will be the only address protocol in use. But, that could take decades, so backwards compatibility will be crucial for the foreseeable future.

3. Better Security: IPv6 was designed with encryption and authentication in mind. IPsec is an optional security component of IPv4, but in IPv6 it is mandatory. With IPsec each individual data packet is encrypted and authenticated, making many of the malicious attacks plaguing the Internet today impossible--or at least substantially more difficult.

4. Better Performance: Changes have been made to the way IP packets and headers are formed, and to the way IPv6 routers process the packets to improve performance--resulting in fewer missed or dropped packets, and more reliable and efficient connections. With more people and devices sharing the Internet, and higher demands for VoIP (voice over IP) and video streaming, performance will be more critical than ever.

It has been coming for more than two decades, but the IPv4 address crunch is beginning to get very real. Expect to see a spike in IPv6 adoption in the near future.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internetNetworkingipv6networksroutersnetworking hardwareengin

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?