Why The Internet Hungers for IPv6
Explosive growth of Internet users, devices, apps creates demand for more IP addresses.
In a word: Growth. IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses and can support 4.3 billion devices connected directly to the Internet. IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses and provides such a vast number of addresses that it can only be expressed mathematically: 3.4 x 10 to the 38th power.
IPv4 addresses are doled out to network operators by the five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs). In January 2011, the free pool of IPv4 addresses that were available to the RIRs ran out. Three months later, APNIC, the RIR in Asia, depleted all but a small pool of IPv4 addresses.
The unused IPv4 addresses belong to agencies involved in the original network research that led to the Internet. These U.S. org's with /8 blocks of IPv4 addresses, have 16.7 million IPv4 addresses each and are worth $500 million or more on the resale market, Addrex says.
When explaining the inevitability of IPv6, proponents point out that IPv4 has 4.3 billion addresses but the world population exceeds 7 billion. The logic goes that at some point we will run out of IPv4 addresses if everyone on the planet is going to get connected to the ‘Net.
Although it was created by U.S. researchers more than 40 years ago, the Internet began to take off in terms of popularity starting in 1995. Since then, it’s grown from 16 million users to 2.2 billion users – a more than 100-fold increase. And it shows no signs of slowing down.
Like the Internet itself, Facebook has experienced unprecedented growth - adding 200 million users each year for the last several years - in the eight years since it was created by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg and three of his friends to make it easier to connect with other co-eds.
Twitter has altered the way millions of Internet users communicate with each other by introducing 140-character microblogs called tweets. Twitter has become a favoured channel for sports fans to gloat over the latest scores, and disaffected citizens to coordinate protests.
According to a long-running survey by the Internet Systems Consortium, 900 million active hosts are connected to the Internet. This survey measures active domains on the Internet; in other words, the number of DNS servers connected to the Internet.
With iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices all the rage, sales of smartphones are on the rise globally – but they still have a long way to go before they surpass sales of regular mobile phones. Smartphone sales reached 472 million in 2011, up 58% from 2012, according to Gartner.
Apple’s iTunes App Store has been a tremendous hit, reaching a milestone of 10,000 downloadable applications in the fall of 2008 – just three months after its introduction. Three years later, in July 2011, over 15 billion apps had been downloaded, Apple said.
Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple all reported huge increases in sales of digital reading devices during the 2011 holiday season. In the United States alone, e-book sales rose 177% in 2011, generating revenue of nearly $1 billion.
Even as the Internet gets more social and mobile, it is showing no signs of slowing down. This continuous growth is what motivates Internet policymakers, network vendors and Web site operators such as Google, Facebook and Yahoo to deploy IPv6.
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