For 24 hours beginning at 0:00 UTC on Wednesday June 8–7 pm today Boston time–there will be a test in which IPv6 will run alongside IPv4. IPv6 is the forthcoming Internet address protocol that will replace IPv4, which is running out of IP addresses. (The last batch of available addresses was auctioned earlier this year.) IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses, supporting “2128 (approximately 340 undecillion or 3.4×1038) addresses.” (According to Wikipedia’s Names of Large Numbers an undecillion is more than a decillion but less than a duodecillion, two other concepts that also mean nothing to me. An undecillion is what this lawyer would describe as eight orders of magnitude larger than a trillion. A Cisco spokesperson said IPv6 will allow for “50 thousand trillion trillion addresses per person” which, if accurate, is about 49.99 thousand trillion trillion more addresses than I expect to I’ll need.) It is estimated that the test will cause problems for about 0.05% of Internet users, which this article notes “works out to something like 150,000 people in North America alone, and more than a million worldwide.” The two IP address systems can run in parallel but, as the linked article also notes, they are not otherwise compatible. A look at the linked article’s examples of the respective protocol’s addresses shows why:
- IPv4 address: 192.168.5.255
- IPv6 address: 2001:db8:1f70:999:de8:7648:6e8
You can run the test at this site if you’d like to know how your computer will deal with IPv6. It told me:
The more complete test is more disconcerting. My computer failed all ten tests “for your IPv6 stability and readiness, when publishers are forced to go IPv6 only . . . Your DNS server (possibly run by your ISP) appears to have no access to the IPv6 Internet, or is not configured to use it. This may in the future restrict your ability to reach IPv6-only sites.” I expect Verizon FIOS will catch the IPv6 wave when it rolls to shore.