Internet organisations have been warning for nearly a decade that Internet Protocol (IP) addresses are running out.
Current IP (IPv4) addresses consist of four sets of numbers ranging between 0 and 255, each separated by a dot. Although this gives some 4.3 billion potential addresses, the way that these numbers have been assigned over the years means they are running out.
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) assigned its last IPv4 block in February 2011 and the regional body, AfriNIC anticipates that it will run out by 2012.
Fortunately, the likelihood of the Internet coming to a grinding halt is minimal, thanks to a dedicated group of people that have been hard at work developing the next generation of number ranges, IPv6.
An IPv6 address consists of 128 bits, therefore allowing an astronomical number of machines, equivalent to the value of two raised to the power of 128.
According to the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA), today (8 June 2011) is World IPv6 Day, an event designed to evaluate how well the IPV6 operates in real time and its real world effects, having previously had the opportunity to iron out any kinks in a synthetic environment.
“Today is the day when a very public global test is performed of what is a very technical system. Success with IPv6 will save the world from a very real and looming shortage of critical address space,” said ISPA’s Rob Hunter.
“Of course, many Global Tier One providers have been implementing IPv6 on their networks for years and many now run a global IPv6-enabled network. ISPA too has ensured it has IPv6-enabled peering points in the Johannesburg and Cape Town exchanges (JINX and CINX).”
Hunter suggests that ISPA members have been gearing up for today for quite some time. He said that today will be the first real test of how well the new system will operate in future, and ISPA is confident that it will go well.
Furthermore, he points out that ISPA encourages providers – both those with and those without their own networks – who have not yet gone the IPv6 route to start gearing up for this as soon as possible.
Companies join in
Neotel today announced that its network is IPv6 capable, and that its first IPv6 customer has been connected.
“Today, Neotel is also able to confirm that it has connected its first IPv6 customer, Peregrine Holdings, a South African financial services company,” Neotel said in a press statement.
“Although our carrier customers are generally prepared for IPv6, many enterprises are still unprepared. Neotel invites South African ISPs and enterprises that aim to be future proof to connect to its IPv6 network, and through the global Tata Communications network to a new world of communications,” said Dr. Angus Hay, Strategic Business Development at Neotel.
Neotel gives customers access to Tata Communications’ “dual stack”, allowing for simultaneous operation of IPv4 and IPv6. Neotel is extending this dual stack capability into its national IP network, through which it delivers Internet services to its customers across Southern Africa.
MTN Business also welcomed the creation of IPv6 Day. “The market has been relatively slow to act to the necessary requirements for IPv6, but the stark reality is that IP addresses are diminishing rapidly and with the imminent lack of IP resources coming to the fore,” said Edwin Thompson, GM for Infrastructure and Technology at MTN Business.
“MTN Business is striving for full IPv6 capability within our server infrastructure and are aligning our network accordingly, and we encourage other service providers, hardware makers, operating system vendors and web companies to do the same,” said Thompson.