World gears up for IPv6 day: What does it mean for you?

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World gears up for IPv6 day: What does it mean for you?
Major Internet service providers (ISPs), home networking equipment manufacturers, and web companies around the world are coming together to permanently enable IPv6 for their products and services by Wednesday.

Every device on a computer network is assigned an Internet Protocol (IP) address, which is a numerical address that is its identity and forms the basis of Internet communication. At present, most devices globally are running on the 27-year old IPv4, which uses 32-bit addresses limiting the IP address space to about 4.3 billion possible unique addresses.

With over 7 billion people worldwide, the number of devices that expect to be connected through internet is increasing each day. The 4.3 billion limit of IPv4 was proving to be a hindrance in expansion of the Internet. Enter IPv6.

IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses, thereby making available in almost infinite pool of such unique IP addresses. IPv6 also provides enhanced security via Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) that supports end-to-end security, authentication and non-repudiation (a service that provides proof of the integrity and origin of data), thereby simplifying total security into applications.

Internet giants like Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Microsoft (Bing) are amongst the group of companies who are permanently enabling IPv6 on their products and services from Wednesday, in a bid to encourage the others to do the same. Other giants like Akami and ISPs like Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable have also joined the effort.

There is likely to be little impact on the end user, though users wishing to "future-proof" their hardware should check for IPv6 compatibility of the same, as eventually we might live in an IPv6 only world. Recent versions of Windows and Mac OS X are all IPv6 compliant. Android has a partial implementation of IPv6 (source), while iOS fully supports IPv6.

The Indian government has said it expects that by December this year all its websites will move to IPv6. "IPv6 is designed to handle security issues better. All government websites will be IPv6-compatible by December this year. For the country as a whole, the roadmap for transitioning to IPv6 is by 2020," Telecom Secretary R Chandrashekhar told reporters at the function marking World IPv6 Launch Day.

The Department of IT has taken various steps, including holding workshops, to encourage state governments to hold pilot projects and 27 websites have already been brought under IPv6 platform in India.

An IPv6 test bed has also been installed by the Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC), a technical wing of Department of Telecom to help vendors and stakeholders test their equipments for IPv6 compatibility and readiness.

To address the various problems being faced by the stakeholders regarding IP address allocation from Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC - which allocates IP numbers in the Asia Pacific region), the National Internet Registry (NIR) has been approved to allocate IPv6 addresses in India. This will ensure a systematic approach to cater to all future requirements in the country.

With inputs from PTI

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