Numbers Don't Lie: The Case for IPv6 Grows

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It's always dangerous to take numbers out of context. In different situations, 100 can be a small number (a weekly salary) or a big number (a golf score).


That being said, it is hard to argue with the position that IDC's prediction that 1 billion mobile devices will access the Internet in 2013 is a big number. The firm says the prediction, if it comes to pass, will more than double this year's figure of 450 million. Two numbers offer a bit of context: A full quarter of the world's population, 1.6 billion people, accessed the Internet this year. That number will reach 2.2 billion in 2013.


This onslaught of connectivity again raises the issue of available addresses and the status of Internet protocol version 6 (IPv6). The current protocol, IPv4, is bending toward the breaking point under the weight of demand for addresses. For several years, the technical community has voiced the need for IPv6, which will astronomically increase the available addresses.


Those arguments are enhanced by the release of another number: A report from the University of California at San Diego said that in 2008, U.S. households consumed 3.6 zettabytes of information. A zettabyte is 1,000,000,000,000 trillion bytes. While not all of that data is sent through devices that require Internet addresses, enough of it is to suggest that proactive steps must be taken.

The Internet knows no borders or boundaries, of course, so the fact that IPv6 implementation is looking up in Australia can be considered good news in the west. Computerworld says the director general of the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre, speaking after the Australian IPv6 Summit 2009, said that the situation is moving from promotion-telling people what IPv6 is and that it is something they need to have-to trials. IPv6 Forum Downunder founder and president Michael Biber said people are "going through implementations, solving issues and doing case studies."

The second part of a three-parter on IPv6 at TMCNet
discussed the role of NTT America in the transition. The piece raised two important underlying issues with which the industry will have to deal. The first is that a large segment of the engineering community thinks that the band-aid technique that enabled the Internet to chug along without meltdown this far, Network Address Translation (NAT), can sustain it well into the future. The other issue is that if there is only a partial transition to the new technology, the world's infrastructure could be bifurcated into "v4" and"v6" worlds that won't easily be able to communicate.

IPv6 advocates always have had a major ally in Google. The company has IPv6-enabled its Search, Alerts, Docs, Finance, Gmail, Health, iGoogle, News, Reader, Picasa, Maps and Wave products, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The site says YouTube is now undergoing the transformation. The firm isn't seeing much IPv6 traffic yet, but it is growing-and momentum is building as the number of endpoints proliferates.