the expanding internet, IPv6

The Internet is not a new entity. Originally developed by academics and the U.S. military, it wasn’t expected to become as popular as it is today.

When the Internet’s pioneers were setting up the naming and numbering systems, they had no idea that there would be such a great demand for Internet addresses. As a result, the system they established, and is still in use, has a limited number of addresses – 4.3 billion. This system, called IPv4, could not sustain the tremendous growth of the Internet. In fact, the last block of IPv4 addresses – the original set of Internet addresses – were allocated in February 2011.

World IPv6 Launch June 8th, 2012

Fortunately, there is a fix. The next generation Internet protocol, called IPv6, provides exponentially more addresses – about 340 undecillion (340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456) addresses. With IPv6, the Internet will be able to accommodate new devices added to it. The ability to expand is critical at this point in the Internet’s ongoing development. Two billion people are about to come online, and an increasing number of devices – from household items to cars – are becoming connected to the Internet (the so-called Internet of Things).

Adoption of IPv6 was slow until World IPv6 Day in 2011, when a number of high profile organizations committed to adopting IPv6 (CIRA included). The following chart shows the number of Canadian websites reachable via IPv6. A spike is clearly evident on World IPv6 Day in May 2011.

.CA websites reachable by IPv6

Note that the sudden drop in the graph in November 2013 is due to the equipment used to measure IPv6 going offline for a brief period of time.

Efforts continue on behalf of CIRA and numerous other organizations to increase the adoption of IPv6.