SlashGear 101: What is IPv6?

Jun 6, 2012
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Today is a vastly important day in the history of the internet as it is the day that IPv6 is being pushed with World IPv6 Day. Thusly it's important also that we let everyone know exactly what IPv6 is and how it will affect you and yours! This term IPv6 stands for Internet Protocol version 6 and it represents one piece of the Internet puzzle, the part that points to your device, in this case. While the internet has thus far been working with IPv4 which had a limited amount of "IP Addresses," we've now moved to IPv6 which allows a much more massive amount of devices to be handled than the previous generation.

The IP system is what allows the internet - in all of its complicated code dealings back and forth - to see your device and direct you to the places you want to go on the web. The image you see below comes from Wikimedia commons and shows what an IPv6 packet header looks like. What you'll see is a relatively basic display of how you get around on the web. The main reason IPv6 exists, or at least the most apparent reason, is the fact that the address for each IP in this version is much longer than IPv4, this allowing, again, many more devices to be routed without trouble across the web. Where before there were only 4.3 billion addresses, now there are 340 trillion trillion trillion possible IP addresses with IPv6.

Another feature that's important to recognize for the IPv6 change-over is the fact that, as Tri Nyuyen of ZyXEL explains, "All devices will be accessible on the public network, making it easier for people to manage things like home automation, file sharing, online gaming, peer-to-peer programs and other applications without complex settings on their router.” This will make things a whole lot smoother, in other words.

Not all devices are currently compatible with IPv6, and in fact most of the devices you've got in your home right this second will not be on IPv6 at all. That said, as PC Mag notes, "SMBs need to be aware that IPv6 is here, and make sure that any future PC, mobile device, network infrastructure, or other IT purchases support the next generation protocol. IPv4 should still be alive and kicking long enough for most organizations to transition to IPv6 by attrition over time." You do not need IPv6 to function, but you'll eventually be on it perhaps without even knowing it.

Welcome to the future, folks! Time for version 6 of the web! Join the World IPv6 Launch right this second to further the advancement of the web as we speak!


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