By Mae Kowalke
Internet Procotol Version 4 (IPv4), the communications protocol used to route data packets across computer networks, remains the foundation of most Internet communications. However, it is steadily being superseded by IPv6, which was published by the Internet Engineering Task Force in 1998.
IPv6 was developed ostensibly to deal with the problem of IPv4 address exhaustion, but it is also a more robust and flexible protocol better suited for today’s network communications.
In addition to more address space, IPv6 improves on its predecessor with support for a variety of functions, including multicasting, mandatory network layer security, mobility and simplified router processing.
Alcatel-Lucent recently discussed Alcatel-Lucent and the World IPv6 Day, explaining why the expanded address capabilities of IPv6 matters to consumers.
“IPv4 allows for only 4 billion unique IP addresses – for a world approaching 7 billion in population,” Alcatel-Lucent said on its website. “And many of us are connecting with one, two, or more devices. This Internet of Things is expected to connect 15 billion devices by 2015.”
Although IPv6 works behind the scenes, its capabilities will soon impact the Internet experience of millions, and then billions, of people around the world.
Alcatel-Lucent has been working for years to help with IPv6 deployments. For example, the company’s 7750 SR multiservice edge router has supported IPv6 since 2007. The company says on its website that this particular router can be used to form the foundation of what it calls a High Leverage Network – one in which all resources and capabilities of the network are used to their full potential.
Since the last available blocks of IPv4 addresses were doled out to network operators this past February, IPv6 is poised to start doing more and more of the behind-the-scenes heavy lifting required to make the Internet work.
Moving to IPv6 will be a gradual process, Alcatel-Lucent predicts, with service providers eventually using devices like the 7750 SR for dual-stack routing, and in the interim continuing to support IPv4 packet encapsulation and address mapping.
IPv6 is already in widespread use by the U.S. Department of Defense and network operators in the Asia Pacific. And, many PC and laptop operating systems support IPv6. The new protocol enables higher-speed mobile connectivity and better quality of service, among other things –prerequisites for 4G LTE and overall network evolution.
“Service providers and enterprises worldwide have begun to focus on interim and long term architectures using the next generation IP version 6 addresses, all while keeping end-users worldwide from experiencing any changes in their Internet browsing experience,” Alcatel-Lucent explained.
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