It’s no surprise that the Internet is growing, but it’s hard to believe that it’s growing at a rate of octillions. The Internet’s address book grew to 340 undecillion (or 340 trillion trillion trillion) from 4.3 billion a few years ago, facing an increase of 79 octillion (or 79 billion billion billion).
Some people fear that the Internet could run out of addresses or simply stop working because of all the traffic. To prevent that from happening, a global standards organization has been working for the past few years to launch an Internet Protocol (IP) standard called IPv6.
The Internet Society based in Geneva, Switzerland would create a system that would have enough IP combinations for everyone in the world to have over a billion IP addresses for every second of their life.
Although this number sounds large, it may be necessary with all the new connection devices being used today – iPads, iPhones, etc.
Cisco predicts that by 2016, there will be three networked devices per person on earth. These devices can include phones and tablets, but can also include washing machines and cars.
The company is also working with devices that don’t connect to the Internet but connect with other wired gadgets. Developers are placing computer chips into items such as glasses and pill bottles, with each item getting its own IP address.
The current IP standard, IPv4, was structured like this: xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx, with each “xxx” able to go from 0 to 255. IPv6 expands that so each “x” can be a 0 through 9 or “a” through “f,” and it’s structured like this: xxxx:xxxx:xxxx:xxxx:xxxx:xxxx:xxxx:xxxx.
Although companies hope that IPv6 will soon take over, IPv4 will work alongside the new model for years.
Many of the major Internet players will operate using IPv6 technology. However, some older operating systems and devices will not be IPv6-compliant.
Only 1% of end users are expected to now be reaching websites using the IPv6 standard. The Internet Society expects that to gradually grow as users update their software and hardware.
Over 2,000 of the most visited websites are already onboard for the switch, including Google, Facebook, Bing, Yahoo, AOL, and Netflix, as well as some network operators like AT&T. Still, the companies must continue to support IPv4 until IPv6 becomes the main system.
On June 8, 2011, all the participating networks and sites turned on IPv6 for a day-long test run without a hitch to test the system.