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Get to know about ‘World IPv6 Launch’ and Why It Matters

 This article will tell you about the history of IPv6 implementation in India and the information on its progress.

It has been a few decades that the internet came into existence. And now in this year, 2012, we are already running short of room for everyone on the internet. And due to this, practically the whole internet will have to move on some new technologies which will again give us a lot of extra “space” to expand our good old internet.

The Problem:

We can explain this issue by giving an analogy to our telephone network. We all know that all people that are connected to the telephone network are assigned unique numbers so that all communication goes seamlessly without any confusion. These numbers help us contact an individual and also allow the service providers know which person to connect the call. If we use 10-digit mobile phone number, it will allow us to have a total of 1billion numbers.

Imagine the scenario if all of these 1 billion numbers are sold out. Then we will have to switch to an 11 digit number system which will give us 10 billion numbers to use. A similar situation has occurred on the internet. Just like the phone numbers, every device which is connected to the internet is assigned an “IP address” which allows it to connect to the network. So the main problem is that we have run out of IP addresses.

The Solution:

The solution is pretty much similar to the one described in the case of the phone numbers. The system of IP address we use till date is known as IPv4 which stands for Internet Protocol version 4. This system uses 32 bits for the internet addresses which means it can have a total of 2^32 (approximately 4.3 billion) addresses.  The addresses are of the format XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX where X can be any digit of the decimal number system (0 to 9).

The technology on which we are shifting now is known as IPv6 which is the sixth revision to the internet protocol. The major difference between IPv4 and IPv6 is that IPv6 uses 128 bits compared to 32 bit IPv4. This means that IPv6 can support a total of a whopping 340,282,366,920,938,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 addresses to be precise. This number is large enough to give 1 billion IP addresses to every individual on the earth. IPv6 addresses are of the format XXXX:XXXX:XXXX:XXXX:XXXX:XXXX:XXXX:XXXX where X can be any digit of the Hexadecimal number system(0-F or more precisely 0-9 and A-F) Now that this number is pretty large, we don’t have to fear running out of space anytime soon.

When are we switching?

This switch is not a one day process. The transition from IPv4 to IPv6 started around a decade back.  But switching the whole of internet would take a lot of time and money. On 8th June 2011, the Internet Society along with a few major websites like Google, Facebook and Yahoo ran a 24hr test of their networks on the IPv6 technology to make sure everything worked out before they actually switch onto IPv6 networks. Google then reported that some of the users might face quite a lot of problems because of this change. But Google assured that more than 99% of the users won’t even notice a change.

All the major internet giants decided to switch to the IPv6 networks on 6th June 2012. All companies from Akamai to Cisco to Comcast, to internet giants like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo and all major ISPs switched to the IPv6 network this morning. This change will happen in over 115 countries.

What you should do?

There’s not much you can do about it. All major ISPs are offering IPv6 and IPv6 services side by side. And those of which who are not providing IPv6 will surely start offering IPv6 services soon. You can check whether your connection is IPv6 compliant by going to this IPv6 test by Google. Please contact you ISP in case it is shown that it shows that your network in not IPv6 compliant.

ISPs in India offering IPv6 Services and Its Implementation

In June 2010, Indian government had stated that all Indian ISP’s will make their network support IPv6 by the end of March 2012. Thus most of the ISPs are providing IPv6 compatible services already. Most of the ISPs worldwide have adopted both IPv4 and IPv6, as IPv6 is not backwards compatible (meaning websites running on IPv4 would not be able to run on IPv6).

Similar steps have been taken up by most ISPs in India by introducing methods like dual stack IP address or tunnelling IPv6 over IPv4. These methods might show a slight reduction in performance of some sites. Most Indian ISPs currently offer corporate plans for a fully compliant IPv6 network. So, in case you urgently need an IPv6 compliant network, you can switch to these plans.

For more information regarding this transition read this.

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