This is World IPv6 day – a day that Wired calls the Nerdiest Holiday ever.
Many organizations – including Google and Facebook – are trying out the new IPv6 protocol today. The current addressing scheme for the internet uses IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4). But we are running out of addresses. An IP address is the numerical address for devices on the internet (such as computers or smartphones) that allow them to communicate. The concept is similar to the telephone number for your landline phone using POTS (plain old telephone service). IPv4 uses a 32 bit address, which allows 2 to the 32 , or about 4.2 billion addresses. IPv6 uses a 128 bit address, which allows 2 to the 128, or about 340 undecillion addresses. That’s 3 followed by 38 zeros. It also has other features not contained in IPv4.
An IPv4 address looks like this: 192.168.0.1 . An IPv6 address looks like this: 2607:F798:0010:0114:0000:0672:3121:0171 .
In addition to getting over an address shortage for conventional use, it provides enough addresses for the internet of things, where, for example, your house and everything in it (appliances, furnace, lights, …) can each have its own unique address.
One of the challenges is that IPv4 and IPv6 are not interoperable, thus requiring dual protocol techniques to be used so long as IPv4 addresses continue to be used.