IPv6: The Under-the-Radar Internet Milestone


As we’ve mentioned, June 6th is the day selected by the Internet Society for the official kick-off of the IPv6 protocol – a chance for internet access providers, content creators and end users to utilize the protocol in their products and services.

Starting today, the current quantity of four billion IP addresses (each of which corresponds to the space occupied by a device connected to the web) will become 340 sextillion addresses. A silent explosion in the online world, this will provoke an important change in internet connection capacity and, nevertheless, will go largely unnoticed.

The decision to amplify the number of available IP addresses was made due to the gradual increase of devices connected to the web that have, little by little, filled up its current capacity (desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, televisions and all other devices that at some point in the future will function with connection to the web – the phenomenon referred to as the internet of things).

The system being used prior, IPv4, came to an end on February 3rd, 2011. On that occasion, the ICANN announced that it had assigned the remaining five IP address reserve lots to identify and connect devices to the network of networks.

How is it that this change is so largely unperceived?

Though the expansion is an important milestone in the 40-year history of the internet, the new protocol doesn’t automatically replace the old one. Both protocols will likely coexist for a few years until the transition is completed.

“Most users won’t realize anything’s going on,” remarks Leo Vegoda of the ICANN. The only issue is that there could be, from time to time, a bit of a delay in the delivery of data to users.

The Web Explodes

Cisco released a projection that provides a picture of the internet’s panorama over the next four years.

* In 2016, there will be eight billion fixed and mobile devices with IPv6 capacity in the world. In 2011, there were just one billion.

* By 2016, 45% of the world’s population will be connected to the internet – meaning the web will be four times the size it is today.

* In Latin America, traffic will grow at a 49% annual rate, meaning that by 2016 it will be seven times what it is today.

Here you may find a link to a list of the ISPs and organizations that are currently implementing IPv6 in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This text has been adapted into English from its original Spanish publication.

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Emily Stewart

Originally from the United States. Degree in Comparative Literature & Society from Columbia University. Background in marketing and communications, including copywriting, translation, editing and content creation. Localization experience. Twitter @doblackshoe