Benefits of Internet protocol version 6

Posted on October 23, 2013 12:06 am

Last evening I had lengthy talk with a friend about the evolution of Internet protocol version 6 which he termed as “safer from web filth” than Internet protocol version 4 in use today. The number of addresses available under Internet Protocol Version four of predominate protocol for routing requests between hosts on today’s Internet is not part of the future. The IPv4 address pools are depleted and there has been faster pace of exhaustion than was previously anticipated. The few remaining IPv4 addresses left to allocate won’t be cheap to obtain because of an endless demand for network addresses at present. The fact is that the migration will be between Internet service providers and unlike what some alarmist have been peddling, the Internet does not stop working just because we have run out of unallocated IPv4 addresses, but the truth is that the future growth is zero without IPv6 uptake.  The Internet is defined as the network which connects computers together and web is a major application of the internet where you view when launching your browser and look at websites. For computers to communicate on the Internet they are assigned a unique IP address. What many people don’t know is that your router or modem at home or in the office has an Internet protocol address and the same case applies to every website and email servers and even that mobile phone has an IP address. Luckily for Mac user like me Mac address is part of your IP address in IPV6. The current IPv4 had set of numbers that are indexed logically numbering a limited figure of four billion.

In recent years there has been an upsurge in Internet devices and that the reason we are run out of available addresses. However, the IPv6 uses different formats that allow huge number of Internet devices. One of the most important thing is that end user is actually able to see no difference between the two versions. A good example is a website with IPv4 address can read like this http://56.98.49.27.  With such it would be hard to a normal Internet user to remember IPv4 addresses and that’s why we use domain names like www.contadorharrison.com. From there, the domain name checks a domain name system server, then finds out the Internet protocol address which helps navigates user to the desired website. Recently countries like China, India and Brazil have been progressively deploying mobile and wireless services on a large scale. There is plenty of publicity on IPv4 address exhaustion but you may wonder why many haven’t shifted to IPv6 by now. According to my friend who works with an international research company, the delay been result of deregulated business environment and the inability of the market to adequately encompass transition models into business plans especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America. There was faint hope that we’ll avoid address exhaustion disaster but that is now unlikely to happen. Presently, estimates shows that less than 5% of Internet end-users could reach an IPv6-only site in developed countries while less than 0.02% in developing world.  Few years back, Network Address Translation was mooted as an alternative to the problem but industry experts were not convinced that it was the answer. Few months ago, an expert who works with a German research company had revealed to me that the problem with Network Address Translation is that it’s often overlooked especially on port exhaustion. The two protocols UDP and TCP/IP most commonly used for Internet data communications have 65,536 ports for each IP address. Once the users’ computers and devices are behind network address translation, they have to share the ports. Recent data available in my possession shows that even the average user can chew through over 900 ports without even notice.  Globally popular apps like Google Maps open up one port and then TCP/IP session for each map tile. If the network session cannot open ports for data traffic, then it will eventually time out. The need to shift to IPv6 is not optional as there should’ve been a gradual migration starting a decade earlier and that’s the reason bulk of the Internet is currently based on a protocol called IPv4.

Majority of Internet service providers around the world estimated to be less than 95% as of summer this year are yet to turn to IPv6 despite the fact that it’s widely known the two protocols cannot talk to each others. Users of IPv4 will need either new equipment or a software upgrade. If you don’t do upgrade time is coming when you may not be able to reach the rest of the world on IPv6. This is a business issue relevant to every company that uses the Internet to do business. There are several benefits for switching to the new model. IPv6 increases IP address size from 32 bits to 128 bits and very well supports more levels of addressing hierarchy and greater number of addressable nodes with simpler auto-configuration of Internet protocol addresses. Also, capabilities are available on IPv6 to enable the labeling of packets belonging to particular traffic for which the sender requests special handling. There is also the header format simplification is said to be the reason IPv4 header fields have been dropped or made optional in order to reduce the common-case processing cost of packet handling and limit the bandwidth cost of the IPv6 header. Changes in the way Internet protocol header options are encoded allows an efficient forwarding with less stringent limits on the length of options and offers greater flexibility for introducing new options in the future. To avert the looming crisis Internet service providers should educate Internet users in advance on IPv6 benefits.

Contador Harrison