Internet Protocol version 6: The coming revolution

This is not a topic for everyone. It is for those who want an in depth technical understanding of the Internet. If that is not you, turn back before you learn too much.


Every individual computer on the Internet is identified by its IP Address. You can find your IP Address HERE.



Today's Internet Protocol address space consists of a 32 bit dotted quad (a.b.c.d) and is known as IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4).

Each of the four numbers are in the range of 0-255 so IPv4 addresses are in the range of through A typical IPv4 address is something like

This means that there is an upper limit of 4,294,967,296 (232) or about 4 billion IPv4 addresses. With the world population approaching 7 billion, and the growing popularity of the Internet, there is a problem. The Internet is running out of addresses. There are already more than 4 billion Internet computers.

Fortunately, many computers are on dial-up connections where the IP Address is assigned at the time of connection and last for the length of connection. Then the address goes back into a re-use pool.

There are other techniques used to extend the lack of IP addresses but something clearly needed to be done to extend the overall address space.

Easier said than done since every router needs to understand the IP address and there are millions of them.

In 1998 the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) defined the solution with the publication of RFC 2460 that defined IPv6. RFC stands for Request For Comment.

These are the documents that define all Internet standard protocols. A complete set may be found at the Internet Engineering Task Force in the RFC Editor here.



IPv6 fixes the problems of IPv4, but requires new Internet routers for implementation. IPv6 addresses are 128 bits each. This is enough for 2128 or 34,028,236,690,000,000,000,000,000,000 unique IP addresses! That's even bigger than the National Debt.

That's enough to accommodate 10,000 hosts for every gram of the Earth!! The mathematical proof that this is big enough may be found in RFC 3194.

A typical IPv6 address will look like this: 2001:0DB8:5002:2019:1111:76FF:FEAC:E8A6

As time goes by more and more Internet sites will go to IPv6 as routers are replaced or updated and schemes are devised that accommodate IPv4 routers at the local level.

Youtube, for example has added IPv6 support according to Network World.

Internet2 is an advanced network consortium consisting of academia, industry and government that is running IPv6 on an optical network.

So what does all this mean to the average Internet user? Eventually the Internet will be all IPv6. For now, just be aware that it is coming.


More information on IPv6 may found at Amazon in IPv6 Essentials by Silvia Hagen.