Web Giants 'All Systems Go' For New IP Address Standard
January 18, 2012

Web Giants ‘All Systems Go’ For New IP Address Standard

Several of the World Wide Web´s heavyweights have announced that they´re ready to implement the new system of numerical addresses that is scheduled to go into effect on June 6.

Yahoo, Facebook and AT&T are among the most prominent of the Internet companies that will begin connecting users to websites with the new system of web ℠phone numbers´ that was successfully tested last June.

Web engineers say that it has become necessary to implement the new system, known to techies as IPv6, because the exponential growth of the Internet has just about exhausted the capacity of the old system for assigning online addresses.

The new net address system will replace the current IPv4 protocol, which will soon run out of available addresses to allocate.

The announcement was made by the Internet Society, which hailed the day as “a major milestone.” The implementation of the new system bears witness to the growth and success of the Internet.

Commenting on the importance of a successful shift from the old standard to the new, Facebook´s VP of infrastructure engineering Jay Parikh recently told BBC News that: “Permanently enabling IPv6 is vital to keeping the internet open and ensuring people stay connected online as the number of web users and devices continue to grow.”

Whether a desktop, a laptop or a smart phone, every device that lets you connect to the Internet is assigned an internet protocol (IP) address. This string of numbers allows other web devices around the world to recognize where data is coming from and where it´s going.

Because the old IPv4 system is incompatible with IPv6, hardware manufacturers and service providers have been faced with something of a logistical challenge in planning the eventual switch-over.

Participating internet service providers (ISPs) have pledged that at least 1% of their fixed line subscribers will be able to use IPv6-enabled websites by the launch date this summer. And the companies D-Link and Cisco, two of the largest manufacturers of home networking equipment, say that all of their home router products will be up to date by June.

The original IPv4 system has a capacity of roughly four billion IP addresses which–though just fifteen years ago seemed a mind-bogglingly large number–are quickly running out.

But if four billion sounds like a lot of IP addresses, web engineers say that the new IPv6 system will offer more 340 trillion trillion trillion addresses.

That´s a hard number for the human mind to get a grip on, so BBC´s Future Media blog posted a minor thought experiment to help us get a feel for just how many addresses that is.

“[If] every man, woman and child on Earth had a billion devices each with an IPv6 address, you haven´t even come close to scratching the surface of the number of addresses available,” read a Wednesday posting on the website.

Assuming that the current system of one IP address per Internet device remains the standard, experts say this should suffice for the foreseeable future.


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