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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

ICANN releases factsheet on IPv6

The global Internet coordinating agency, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has released a fact sheet on Internet Protocol version six (IPv6) aimed at the Internet’s vital expansion.

ICANN also said there is widespread agreement within the technical community that the Internet’s current system based on IP version 4 (IPv4)is unable to cope with the network’s expansion.

General manager of public participation at ICANN, Mr. Kieren McCarthy, informed that the release of factsheet covering Internet Protocol 6 was intended to provide an explanation of the protocol upgrade for a non-technical audience in the hope of enlarging public understanding surrounding this and related issues.

“The factsheet briefly reviews the technology behind IPv6, explains why it is needed, why uptake has been slow, and outlines why a move to the protocol should be considered soon by many organisations and governments,” he said.

He also said that the factsheet continues what has been a popular series of short, clearly written, guides covering topical technical issues in which ICANN is involved.

ICANN in the executive summary made available to Champion Infotel stated that there is widespread agreement within the technical community that the Internet’s current system is unable to cope with the network’s expansion.

“Every device attached to the Internet needs its own unique address. The “free pool” of existing addresses will run out completely within five years,” ICANN said.

In addition, the proposed solution, ICANN said, is an updated system running on Internet Protocol version 6, or IPv6.

“IPv6 adoption has been slow. Since it is not directly compatible with the current IPv4 system, there is inertia to the move,” ICANN highlighted, adding that this delay has become a matter of increasing concern.

“It is important that companies, governments and regulatory authorities understand the issues surrounding IPv6 and why its use should be encouraged,” the global Internet agency said.

ICANN further stated that every device connected to the Internet needs an address, but those addresses are rapidly being depleted.

“As unlikely as that may seem, the system put in place in 1977 assumed that four billion separate addresses on the network would be more than sufficient,” ICANN said, stressing that the Internet’s enormous success and growth has seen those addresses rapidly taken up.

“Within the next five years, and possibly sooner, the “free pool” of addresses – those that have not yet been used or assigned will run out,” ICANN explained.

As a result, ICANN pointed out that unless a method of providing more addresses is introduced, the Internet’s growth would become increasingly constrained over the next decade.

Fortunately, ICANN pointed out that Internet engineers foresaw the problem and back in 1996 devised a solution that would provide 340 zillion separate addresses.

“To give an idea of the scale, if all existing four billion Internet addresses were contained inside a Blackberry phone, the new system would fill a container the size of the earth,” ICANN said.

Adoption of that solution called Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) has been slow, just as the benefits of IPv6 are long-term.

Technical workarounds, ICANN noted allows for continued use of the existing Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) system, which also allow several devices to share one Internet address.

ICANN clarified that the slow movement to IPv6 has caused increasing concern in the technical community and relaxed expectation of movement has moved to active promotion of IPv6 adoption.

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