Today, we are so used to communicating over the Internet we don’t know that under the covers there are major changes needed to keep those communications going.
Currently, most people and websites communicate with a protocol called IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4). It provides for a 32-bit address for each device on the Internet. Since everything is kept in binary (base 2), that’s 2 to the 32nd power or a little over 4 billion device addresses available. Earlier this year, we actually ran out of IPv4 addresses.
It has been clear for years, that we needed to skip an order of magnitude and not even implement IPv5 and, instead, go directly to IPv6 that is a 128-bit address or 2 to the 128th power. That allows for 340 trillion, trillion, trillion addresses. More than we’ll need for quite a while.
Here’s a graphic comparison those two numbers:
Today there are over 20,000 websites already using IPv6 including Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia and YouTube.
So other than web masters responsible for their website’s technical specs, why do we need to know about IPv6? The answer is that many companies are now moving the implementation of IPv6 to the front burner. Apple, as an example, told its developers at the recent Worldwide Developers Conference, “Because IPv6 support is so critical to ensuring your applications work across the world for every customer, we are making it an App Store submission requirement, starting with iOS 9." This means that over a million apps written for iOS now have to be converted to run over IPv6.
There is a alternative to use translators between the two protocols, but it’s evident that the cellular carriers aren’t going to support both protocols much longer and plan to go to an IPv6-only cellular network in the not too distant future.
Here are sample addresses for both protocols:
IPv4 – 188.8.131.52
IPv6 – 3ffe:1900:4545:3:200:f8ff:fe21:67cf
Be on the lookout over the next year to see these changes occur.