If you’re like many web users, you may have a limited understanding of Internet Protocols or know which version on an Internet Protocol you are utilizing to communicate at any particular time. In short, Internet Protocol (IP) is a set of rules that govern internet activity and drive the completion of different tasks on the Internet / World-Wide-Web. An IP address is a number that, as a part of Internet Protocol, is assigned to a device connected to the internet. This number can be static or dynamic and differentiates one device from literally billions of other internet-connected devices. This differentiation allows different devices to connect and send/receive data.
We are in the process of moving from IPv4 to a new version, IPv6, which has been in development for some time. The need for a transition to a new version of the Internet Protocol has primarily been driven by by the fact that we have started running out of IPv4 IP addresses. In fact, when IPv4 addresses began to run out, intermediary devices called address translation routers became necessary, to make sure that IPv4 packets were getting to their intended destinations. Unfortunately, these translators can only service a limited number of connections at a time, which can slow Internet traffic considerably. IPv6’s ability to bypass intermediary devices will lead to a faster, less congested Internet.
For tech blogger and IETF chair Jari Arkko, the advantages of IPv6 are readily apparent. “[while using IPv6] I was now able to reach the devices in my home network directly. For instance, I can reach my backup server at home on a secure connection directly to that device, rather than having to wait until I get back into my home network or go through complicated tunnel set ups.” Arkko, who lives in Finland, is seeing widespread IPv6 deployment in his home country. In fact, while commuting on a train he noted with some satisfaction that his iPad was acting as a mobile broadband gateway and that all his other devices were able to reach the Internet through his iPad. Arkko’s mobile broadband provider, a Finnish company called DNA, has been a change leader for IPv6, enabling its use for many of its customers.
While IPv6 support has been in the works for several years and major content providers like Google and Facebook have enabled it for their sites, IPv6 adoption is still in its early stages. As more and more content providers and manufacturers push IPv6 on their sites and devices, its growth promises to only hasten. The future of Internet traffic is upon us, and IPv6 promises to make it a much faster, more robust experience.
The IETF if a joint affirming partner of the OpenStand Principles, which capture the effective and efficient development processes that have made the Internet and Web the premiere platforms for innovation and borderless commerce. Collectively, the OpenStand principles establish a model that helps standards like IPv6 become broadly extensible to the global marketplace through:
- Cooperation among technology development organizations
- Adherence to due process, broad consensus, transparency, balance and openness
- Commitment to technical merit, interoperability, competition, innovation and benefit to humanity
- Availability of technology to all
- Voluntary, market-driven technology adoption