IPv4 is Running on Empty

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IPv4 is Running on Empty

By TMCnet Special Guest
David Byrd
  |  June 01, 2011

According to Latif Ladid, president of the IPv6 Forum, the IPv4 addresses managed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority were exhausted on Feb. 3. There are no more IPv4 address blocks available for allocation. The sky is not falling, numbers are not being hawked on street corners, and, yes, please step away from the ledge. The IP community has known of this impending event for years and has developed a solution referred to as IPv6.

In the simplest of terms, IPv6 is intended to resolve the issue of the world running out of IP addresses in 2011. IPv4 is based upon a 32-bit address scheme, whereas IPv6 uses 128 bits. The difference is dramatic. With IPv4, the Internet has a total IP address capacity of 4 billion unique addresses. In 1980 when IPv4 was released this seemed like a big number, as the engineering groups involved did not foresee the eventual growth that defines today’s Internet. IPv6 represents 3.4x1038 or 340 trillion, trillion, trillion addresses. I think that might last the planet Earth for a while. Other elements of IPv6 include improved security, simpler processing, mobility features and multicast.

The five regional registries around the world do have IPv4 address blocks remaining for assignment. However, those blocks are expected to be depleted prior to the end of the year. As such, interest in participating in the Internet Society-promoted June 8 IPv6 Day, a 24-hour test drive of IPv6, is growing. Cisco (News - Alert), Comcast, Google, Vonage, Yahoo, Facebook and many other companies are expected to participate.

The transition to IPv6 will take decades. Therefore, for Broadvox (News - Alert) and most Internet service providers’ customers there will be no immediate impact, but the growing number of IP endpoints will affect ISPs, ITSPs and OEMs in short order. Consequently, service providers must begin deploying IPv6-compatible network elements this year or risk being unable to support new IP devices.

2012 may not be the end of life as we know it (Mayan calendar and Nostradamus enthusiasts relax); however, it will usher in a new phase for the Internet.

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Edited by Jennifer Russell