Why isn’t everyone using IPv6 yet?

IPv6 is the most recent version of the Internet Protocol. It is able to identify devices that use the internet in order for communication to work. You can compare it to the street address and zip code you need in order to send a letter to someone.

Due to the massive Internet growth and the growing usage of smartphones, tablets, and other devices that can use the internet, the need for IPv6 is bigger than ever. The need for IPv6 grew even more when in April 2011 the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Registry became the first of in total five regional registries to reach its IPv4 address limit. Soon, other registries followed with the same news. 

We have to prepare for the transition to IPv6. However, IPv6 is not implemented worldwide yet. In this article we dive deeper into this topic: why isn’t everyone using IPv6 yet?

The benefits of IPv6

IPv4 address exhaustion was one of the main reasons for the development of IPv6. Therefore, the IPv6 protocol extends the total number of addresses to more than 7.9×10^28 times.

5 reasons we haven’t transitioned to IPv6 yet

1. IPv6 was not designed to be IPv4 compatible

When IPv6 was designed, compatibility with IPv4 was not on the requirements list. A solution to communicate with devices that still run on IPv4 was not provided. This means that each IPv6 address needs an IPv4 address. Having to run both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses means that there are higher maintenance costs, which operators aren’t always willing to pay.

2. NAT to the rescue

One of the main reasons for the slow transition to IPv6 is Network Address Transition (NAT). NAt has the ability to make a collection of private IP addresses public. With a NAT machine, such a firewall or router, thousands of privately addressed devices can be presented to the public using a single public IP address. This greatly extends the lifetime of IPv4. 

3. It’s expensive

It’s hard to justify the cost and complexity of deploying IPv6 while IPv4 is still performant.

4. Updates in organizations

Deploying IPv6 requires regular training within an organization. To complete an IPv6 migration, new procedures and policies are often necessary. Furthermore, staff needs to be updated on how to best manage IPv4 and IPv6 assets, and IT departments need to dedicate multiple hours in learning the new IPv6 software and hardware. Often, the tools used to manage and monitor networks don’t actually support IPv6.

5. End-user incompatibility

The majority of devices are only compatible with IPv4. This means that a shift to IPv6 compatible devices will take some investment and time.

Conclusion

One day there will be a permanent migration to IPv6. However, due to the reasons just mentioned this can take decades to achieve. For the foreseeable future, IPv4 addresses will still be sold and re-used.

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