As we all know that the Internet is running out of addresses, and if nothing were done, new devices simply wouldn’t be able to connect. To prevent that from happening, the Internet Society, a global standards-setting organization with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland; and Reston, Va., had worked for years and launched a new Internet Protocol (IP) standard called IPv6
IP is a global communications standard used for linking connected devices together. Every networked device — your PC, smartphone, laptop, tablet and other gizmos — needs a unique IP address.
That sounds unimaginably vast, but it’s necessary, because the number of connected devices is exploding. By 2016, Cisco predicts there will be three networked devices per person on earth. We’re not just talking about your smartphone and tablet; your washing machine, wristwatch and car will be connected too. Each of those connected things needs an IP address.
Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is the latest revision of the Internet Protocol (IP), the communications protocol that routes traffic across the Internet. It is intended to replace IPv4, which still carries the vast majority of Internet traffic as of 2013. IPv6 was developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to deal with the long-anticipated problem of IPv4 address exhaustion.
Every device on the Internet, such as a computer or mobile telephone, must be assigned an IP address for identification and location addressing in order to communicate with other devices. With the ever-increasing number of new devices being connected to the Internet, the need arose for more addresses than IPv4 is able to accommodate. IPv6 uses a 128-bit address, allowing for 2128, or approximately 3.4×1038 addresses, or more than7.9×1028 times as many as IPv4, which uses 32-bit addresses. IPv4 allows for only approximately 4.3 billion addresses. The two protocols are not designed to be interoperable, complicating the transition to IPv6.
The current IP standard, IPv4, was structured like this: xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx, with each “xxx” able to go from 0 to 255. IPv6 expands that so each “x” can be a 0 through 9 or “a” through “f,” and it’s structured like this: xxxx:xxxx:xxxx:xxxx:xxxx:xxxx:xxxx:xxxx. (Yes, there was an IPv5, but it was a streaming multimedia standard developed in the late 1970s that never really caught on).