It’s been a long time coming, and the work is not yet done, but the major ISPs are continuing to make progress with an initiative that will make the Internet a lot better for all of us. It’s called Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), and June 6th is World IPv6 Launch Day.
For various technical reasons and because the Internet is running out of assignable addresses, the Internet community has decided to move from what’s called IPv4 with 4.3 billion addresses to IPv6 which has more than 1038 addresses. To find out more and how this may affect you, refer to “A Layman’s Guide to the IPv6 Transition.” as well as “Time Warner Cable Talks About IPv6 Launch.”
For a background details and a deeper technical discussion, you may want to take a look at: “Everything you need to know about IPv6”
The Internet Society has been promoting various phases of this rollout and coordinating with the industry. In order to transition to a new Internet Protocol, the major ISPs and websites must install new hardware and software, test it all in parallel without disruption, certify cable modems and 3rd party routers for home and business and then guide customers during the transition.
In 2011, we had an IPv6 World Day that conducted some preliminary testing and generated a higher level of consciousness. It was a very limited dry run. This year, June 6th, is 2012 World IPv6 Launch Day, and again the effort is to educate and prepare. Some aggressive ISPs have made formal announcements.
For example, Comcast recently updated its blog which said, in part:
To meet this goal, we launched and enabled IPv6 in over one-third of our broadband network, in areas that are served by Arris CMTSes. We project completing deployment on all of our Arris CMTSes in a few months time. We then expect to progress to the Cisco CMTS platform. In parallel, we plan to continue to work with cable modem and home router vendors to deploy IPv6-capable firmware to more customer devices.
AT&T has published a white paper, “AT&T’s Position on IPv6.”
You can find out more about what Time Warner is doing at this web location.
The most important thing to know is that the major ISPs, Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, and so on are still not quite ready to approach customers about the transition. Testing remains to be done with cable modems and routers to ensure a trouble free experience and there remains work to be done on how to educate customers, give them some tools, help them know what to be concerned with, and hopefully, appreciate how transparent it will all be.
The best thing we as customers can do right now is to start doing some light reading on IPv6 and be ready when the ISPs approach us later with the invitation to upgrade equipment. As far as the Mac goes, you’re in good shape with OS X Lion, but you may need a new cable modem and home router that supports IPv6 and is blessed by your ISP.
This transition from IPv4 to IPv6 is very technical and will happen gradually. Meanwhile, IPv4 devices will continue to work just fine. The ISPs are working behind the scenes to make sure it’s a smooth and worthwhile transition, and businesses will naturally take the lead. IPv6 World Day is just another milestone of testing and education to help make that happen.
Teaser Image credit: Shutterstock.