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Yesterday 3000 important web sites including Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Yahoo as well as many top Internet Service Providers turned on their IPv6 support and this time they left it turned on. Nothing happened. Or maybe I should say nothing bad happened, which is good, very good.
The world is quickly running out of new IPv4 addresses with almost 3.7 billion issued. There are two workarounds: 1) complicate the net further with cascading arrays of Network Address Translation (NAT) servers that slow things down, inhibit native inbound connections like VoIP, and defeat location services both good and bad, or; 2) move to IPv6 with 128-bit addresses (IPv4 is 32-bit) that would allow giving an IPv6 address not only to every person and device but to every sock in everyone’s sock drawer as well, allowing bidirectional communication with hundreds of billions of devices from pacemakers to doorbells.
And that’s ostensibly what happened yesterday except that about 80 percent of the net is still running on IPv4 and will be until more and more sites and service providers switch over and more routers are shipped that support IPv6. While some home routers have been IPv6 capable for years, most have not, so expect ad campaigns urging us all to buy new stuff.
I’m there already since Comcast, my ISP, was among those yesterday switching on IPv6 support and my home network has been ready since our move back to California.
We noticed nothing at all yesterday, which is the way it should be. No readers messaged me complaining, either. I wish my network had become obviously quicker but it didn’t and probably never will. But a whole new level of utility will be available once IPv4 is turned off, which I hope is soon but probably won’t be for years.
And IPv6 won’t catch the bad guys offguard, either, since they seem to always be ahead of the technical curve. A Comcast VP who has oversight of this area for America’s largest ISP reported yesterday that his very first IPv6 e-mail after the cutover was spam.