What is IPv6 and What New Equipment Will You Need to Use It?During the past few days, weeks, and months, we have heard quite a bit about IPv6 Internet protocol. My goal with this article is to clarify just what IPv6 is and what equipment we will need for taking advantage of this new Internet protocol.

First, it must be understood that IPv6 is not a brand-new concept, but one that builds on the IPv4 that has worked very well since the Internet was in diapers. The goal with the new protocol is to fix one minor issue in the previously accepted IPv4 Internet protocol. This minor flaw is related to the number of IP addresses that were believed to be limitless under IPv4. However, this thinking has changed as the Internet has grown into what it has become today with billions of devices including smartphones, tablets, music devices, laptop computers, and desktop computers connecting to the Internet daily. With all of these devices now relying on a connection, the realization has struck that we will one day run out of IP addresses. In a nutshell, IPv6 is to be the IPv4’s successor.

So Why is IPv6 Important to All of Us Who Use the Internet?

IPv4, a 32-bit protocol, creates approximately 4.3 billion IP addresses. With that being said, it is obvious to even the most casual observer that, as the world flocks to buy more electronic devices and as businesses expand their services over the Internet, it will only be a matter of time before we run out of available connections. With that in mind, the developers of the IPv6 protocol made it a 128-bit protocol, which will make available approximately 340 trillion unique IP addresses.

How Do I Know if My ISP Supports IPv6?

You can contact your ISP by phone or by email and ask them if they currently support IPv6.

Will My Desktop, Laptop, Tablet, or Smartphone SupportĀ IPv6?

This will be determined on an individual basis, with each of us needing to experiment with our systems, in order to determine if our computers, tablets, or smartphones will function properly using IPv6. One of the easiest ways (thus far) is to use Test your IPv6 connectivity. The report you receive will provide you with the following information:

  • What your public IP address is on the public Internet for IPv4.
  • What your public IP address is on the public Internet for IPv6.
  • If your browser will work on the machine that you are testing when IPv6 is launched on June 6, 2012.
  • Whether your browser supports IPv4 only.
  • Whether you connection supports both IPv4 and IPv6.
  • Whether your ISP supports IPv6.

Is This the Only Testing Site Available?

No. I did a search of IPv6 websites available and found these additional sites you can try:

How Accurate Are These Tests?

I don’t believe that any of these sites are currently 100% accurate. In other words, they should only be viewed as a ‘general’ guide as to how well your system may work using the new protocol. I base this statement on some of the comments I received after testing the protocol on my personal computer. These statements included the following:

“You appear to be able to browse the IPv4 Internet only.”

“Your DNS server (possibly run by your ISP) appears to have IPv6 Internet access”

The word ‘appears’ in the reporting process doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in me. I am a black and white, yes or no type of person. That means that the words ‘could be,’ ‘maybe,’ or ‘appears,’ are OK if one is playing tiddlywinks, but wouldn’t cause me to feel confident in regards to gaining access to the Internet. Since I rely on it to make my living, I need to know, without question, that this connection will not be distorted or become non-functioning.

When Will IPv6 Become the New Normal?

There doesn’t appear to be a definitive answer to that question, since there are a lot of variables at play and millions of Web pages that need to be changed over. For now, however, I believe we may safely say that it could take five years or more (some say not even by the end of this decade) before the changeover occurs and IPv4 is fully replaced with IpV6. Therefore, without the benefit of my crystal ball that is in the repair shop, I am unable, with any certainty, to answer this question.

What New Hardware Will You Need?

This all depends on your current equipment. If your broadband modem and broadband router are compatible with IPv6 or if there is a firmware upgrade available from the manufacturer, you will be set to go. If your current equipment is not compatible, you will need to replace the modem and/or the router.

Modem: If your ISP supplies the modem, the company will need to replace it with one that is IPv6 compatible. If the modem belongs to you, and is not IPv6 ready or cannot be upgraded, you will need to bear the cost of purchasing a new modem.

Router: The same applies. If your ISP provides you with a router, they should replace a non-compliant router with a new one or with an upgraded model. However, if you own your own router, you will need to bear the cost of replacement.

That means that, since I own both my modem and router and neither are IPv6 compliant, I will have to bear the cost for the replacements.

Where Can I Get More Information on IPv6?

I took a look around the Internet looking for websites that appear to have the best and most accurate information in reference to IPv6. In my search, I came across the DSL site which, I personally believe provides the most concise information on the topic. This site should provide you with answers to your questions with many of them being found in its IPv6 FAQs section. The link for the DSL Report and the source for this article is linked below.

Source: DSL Reports IPv6 FAQ

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Yogesh Mhatre