IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) is a version of the Internet Protocol (IP) intended to succeed IPv4 which is the communications protocol currently used to direct almost all Internet traffic. IPv6 will allow the Internet to support many more devices by greatly increasing the number of possible addresses.
What are IPv4 and IPv6?
IPv4 is the current version of the Internet Protocol, the identification system the Internet uses to send information between devices. This system assigns a series of four numbers (each ranging from 0 to 255) to each device. IPv4 only allows for about 4 billion addresses and the Internet needs more room than that. IPv6 is the new version of the Internet Protocol and expands the number of available addresses to a virtually limitless amount–340 trillion trillion trillion addresses.
Why is IPv6 important?
The Internet is running out of IPv4 addresses. Transitioning to IPv6 enables the Internet to continue to grow and enables new, innovative services to be developed because more devices can connect to the Internet.
What is an IP address?
Just like a phone number helps you communicate with another phone, an IP address (short for Internet Protocol address) is provided to your computer so it can communicate with websites, Internet services, and other devices. IP addresses are numbers that are displayed as strings of letters or numbers, such as 192.0.2.1 (for IPv4) and 2001:db8::1234:ace:6006:1e (for IPv6).
What is World IPv6 Launch?
World IPv6 Launch on June 6, 2012, organized by the Internet Society, is the day participating major websites and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) permanently enable IPv6 and begin the transition from IPv4.
How long will this transition take?
The complete transition to IPv4 to IPv6 will take time as every website and Internet Service Provider must make the switch. In the meantime, both systems will work together until IPv4 is no longer needed.
IPv6 In Indian Context
In India 27 websites have been brought on IPv6 platform. Further, a direction has been issued to all the Government organizations to migrate their websites to IPv6 (dual stack) by December 2012. As IPv6 is not backward compatible with IPv4, the transition to IPv6 is likely to be a complex, mammoth and long term exercise during which both IPv4 and IPv6 will co-exist.
The IPv6 improves on the addressing capacities of IPv4 by using 128 bits addressing instead of 32 bits, thereby practically making available an almost infinite pool of IP addresses. IPv6 will affect all kinds of devices. In fact the large address space of IPv6 makes it possible for every device on earth to get connectivity. Therefore, the Internet would no more be a network of people but a network of things or the“Internet of Things”. The devices could be of any, such as Smart Phones, Smart Tablets, Traditional Internet desktops, Data-enabled mobile phones, Consumer appliances, Embedded systems, Sensors etc.
Possibilities of IPv6 applications across different industry segments are also immense. Some of the possibilities in various sectors include – Communication – Use by service providers in their networks, Data centers, ASP, Web Hosting; Energy Sector -Smartgrids, Smartmeters; Transportation -Intelligent transport systems, Smart vehicles; Media -IPTV, Mobile TV; Healthcare -Emergency rural healthcare management, Smart healthcare management systems and Defense Sector -Intelligent warfare systems.
India has at present 35 million IPv4 addresses against a user base of about 360 million data users. In addition, Government is planning to have a target of 160 million and 600 million broadband customers by the year 2017 and 2020 respectively. Moreover, there is a strong security requirement to provide unique IP address to each individual data user. In addition to addressing capacity.
Pv6 also offers several other advantages over IPv4.
a) Security – Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) is mandatory in the network layer and is a part of the IPv6 base protocol suite. It supports end-to-end security, authentication and non-repudiation thereby simplifying end to end security into applications.
b) Auto configuration – This is a plug and play feature which simplifies network configuration especially when the number of devices / nodes is very large like in typical sensor networks. It helps networks to quickly respond to crisis situations and facilitate adhoc network reorganizations.
c) IP Host Mobility – This feature enables a mobile node to arbitrarily change its location on an IP network while still remaining reachable and maintaining existing connections. Some practical uses of Mobile IPv6 could be enterprise on the move (e.g. courier companies etc.), globally reachable home networks, and internet enabled transport (cars, buses, trucks etc.)
d) Innovative Applications – IPv6 has been designed with many new features which make it possible to develop entirely new applications which are not possible in the IPv4 protocol e.g.Centralized Building Management System,Intelligent Transport Systems, Rural Emergency Health Care, Tele-education / Distance Education, Smart Grids etc.
IPv6 is not just about addresses but about applications taking advantage of the new features built into the protocol. Only a few applications have been mentioned and there are many more applications possible. The Department of Telecommunications is actively pursuing with industry, Central and State governments through regular meetings to propagate the adoption of IPv6 for the benefit of the country.