In a ceremony in Florida yesterday, not totally dissimilar to the scattering of someone’s ashes, the final IPv4 addresses were distributed to the five Regional Internet Registries (RIR) and could run out before the end of the year.
It marks the end of IPv4 and should herald the implementation of IPv6 which will expand the internet address space to 128 bits making room for approximately 340 trillion addresses, which should be enough for quite some time. The implementation of the IPv6 scheme has been less than seamless and Google among others are working on World IPv6 Day which is scheduled for June 8, 2011 – I don’t think its going to be a public holiday though. On this day, all of the participating organizations will enable access to as many services as possible via IPv6 including Facbook, Google, YouTube and Yahoo!
Each of the five RIRs was given approximately 16 million IPv4 addresses by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), to dole out in the coming months. It is expected these addresses will run out by the end of 2011 or early 2012. There are some who are worried that the implementation of the IPv6 system is not proceeding fast enough and that more pressure should be applied to the governments and ISPs.
Leslie Daigle, the Internet Society's Chief Internet Technology Officer, is one of those who thinks more needs to be done. "We hope the milestone announced today sparks other organisations to plan for and deploy IPv6 as part of a strategy to ensure they are connected to a growing future Internet that is as dynamic and vibrant as today's.” IPv6 compatibility is supported in almost all modern routers and end users will probably not notice much difference in the way they surf the web as the change over takes place. Dr. Tim Chown, from Southampton University, who has been working on IPv6 since the mid-1990s, said: ““The challenge over recent years has been for researchers, developers and vendors to standardise IPv6 and produce products that support its use - and most importantly to devise ways for IPv4 and IPv6 to coexist and work together on today's Internet infrastructure, allowing IPv6 to be gradually introduced while IPv4 continues to operate.”
Currently only a handful of UK ISPs offer IPv6 to their customers, and the biggest UK production deployment is on JANET, the UK academic network, and some of the universities it serves. IPv6 deployment is growing, but still in its infancy, and will need to grow faster to sustain the massive demand for new Internet services worldwide.