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Networking | News

IPv6 Now Enabled by Default on Thousands of Web sites and Many Home Routers and ISPs

The Internet Society held its World IPv6 Launch event last week. Participants in the event included more than 3,000 Web companies, five home network equipment manufacturers, and 60 Internet service providers (ISPs), including Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Cisco, Microsoft Bing, Comcast, AT&T, and D-Link. The participating companies commited to permanently enable IPv6 by default for their products and services, as of June 6.

IPv6 is the newest version of the Internet Protocol (IP), which provides addresses to uniquely identify each hardware device on a network. With the explosion of networked devices, such as smartphones and tablets, the old protocol, IPv4, is rapidly running out of IP addresses and adoption of IPv6 is becoming a necessity. IPv4 had a capacity of 4.3 billion unique IP addresses, while IPv6 has a capacity of 340 undecillion unique IP addresses, a billion-trillion times more than IPv4.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) allocated the last remaining IPv4 addresses to the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) in February 2011. The Asia Pacific region has allocated the last of its IPv4 addresses. Europe expects to run out of IPv4 addresses this year, the United States next year, and Latin America and Africa in 2014.

Last year, the Internet Society held World IPv6 Day, when participating companies committed to temporarily enable IPv6 for their products and services for one day. With this year's World IPv6 Launch, participating companies made the switch to IPv6 permanently.

The Internet Society created these events to help ensure that the Internet remains open and accessible to everyone, including the billions of people around the world who aren't yet online.

"The support of IPv6 from these thousands of organizations delivers a critical message to the world: IPv6 is not just a 'nice to have'; it is ready for business today and will very soon be a 'must have,'" said Leslie Daigle, Chief Internet Technology Officer, Internet Society, in a prepared statement. "We believe that the commitment of these companies to deploy IPv6 will ensure that they remain industry leaders. Any company wishing to be effective in the new Internet should do the same."

World IPv6 Launch commitments include:

  • Enabling IPv6 by default for new Internet service subscribers;
  • Ensuring the majority of new home routers shipped after June 6 have IPv6 enabled by default;
  • Enabling IPv6 on main Web sites, without the use of IPv6-specific URLs (www.ipv6.example.com) or mirror sites; and
  • Ensuring that end-user configuration is not required for use of IPv6.

For end users, the switchover to IPv6 should be transparent for the most part, unless they are using old equipment.

"Most recent vintage computers and servers are IPv6 ready," said David Krozier, network infrastructure analyst at Ovum, in a prepared statement. "Microsoft Vista, Windows 7, and MAC OSX 10.7 all have IPv6 enabled by default. For mobile devices, the Android and Apple iOS operating systems enable IPv6 by default, so when IPv6 is enabled by carriers, in many cases user's equipment will just automatically connect to the Internet using IPv6."

Krozier also notes that users can test the IPv6 readiness of their equipment by visiting www.test-ipv6.com.

Further information about World IPv6 Launch is available at the event's site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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