The Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) has now been depleted due to its limited number. This is why a new and scalable version was developed in order to be able to provide IPs to the increasing number of devices connected to the Internet. IPv6 brings with it 3.4 x 1038 addresses, which has the capability to provide a unique IP to each gadget on the Internet for centuries to come.
However, transitioning from IPv4 to IPv6 is not as easy as it may seem. It is a multi-year process that requires a substantial investment of time and resources from government agencies and major enterprises. This effort, according to Ralph Wallace, Principal Enterprise Architect (IPv6 Lead) for Verizon Public Sector, began as early as 2003 within the United States government and has been steadily gaining steam in recent years.
As stated by Wallace, about 50% of current Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website users connect through IPv6. Additionally, the percentage of users that access Google over the IPv6 protocol stands at 40.17%. There has been a gradual but steady acceptance, he said, which is picking up speed in part because of a coordinated effort by different government agencies, to make it a priority.
IPv6 is an Internet Protocol version that defines 128-bit IP addresses and can account for an almost infinite number of unique devices, rendering them immediately addressable across the Internet, and particularly useful for tracking cybercrime and tracing cyber criminals.
For the past two years, the U.S. government has made upgrading to IPv6 a top priority, viewing it as a matter of security and asking different agencies to report on their progress. For Wallace, this means a 20% uptake by the end of 2023—a significant jump for the adoption of the new protocol.
Meanwhile, Professor Latif Ladid, who is both president of the IPv6 Forum and chair of the 5G World Alliance, has pointed out that IPv6 is being widely deployed in countries like China and India. He emphasized that because of this rising popularity, India is expected to be the world’s first “blockchain nation” in the near Internet future.
“It is fundamental that we empower everyone on the Internet so that they are not just tourists. This is why the first thing (that needs to happen) is the number of IP addresses needs to be expanded beyond the four billion addresses we have now on IPv4, to the trillions of IP addresses available on IPv6,” said Ladid, speaking at the Global Forum on Technology, Sustainability and Humanity held in Muscat, Oman in October 2022.
According to Ladid, many blockchain protocols are still built on top of IPv4, which makes their implementation “lousy” at the moment. He also stated that since a blockchain should be implemented on a peer-to-peer basis, this approach is not appropriate.
This is why Ladid believes that providing each person with their own unique IP address, just like they each have their own phone number, will greatly increase the global population’s sense of agency and is currently promoting the combination of IPv6 with blockchain, but only a scalable one will do.
The transition and subsequent completion of IPv6 as a new standard will occur through distinct phases over the course of the next few years. These phases include a network backbone equipment that will initially only support IPv6 network communications, but will eventually be able to communicate across both IPv4 and IPv6 networks. This transition will occur automatically as application software and other devices are upgraded or replaced until IPv4 is a standard of the past.
IPv6 provides users with the option to innovate, which is something that can only happen when there is a reliable protocol in place. It is an opportunity that private companies and public agencies should take advantage of to the fullest extent as technology continues to move forward.