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Is IPv6 Ready for its Big Closeup?

Internet Protocol version 6 (“IPv6”), the most recent version of the Internet Protocol that provides an identification and location system for computers on networks and routes traffic across the Internet, isn’t new. IPv6 became a draft standard for the Internet Engineering Task Force (“IETF”) in 1998 and was ratified as an Internet standard in 2017.

But indications are that IPv6 is finally heading for some significant growth over the coming years, in large part to address the shortage of IP address assignments available under IPv4.

A study by Research and Markets projects that the global IPv6 market will grow from $1.13 billion in 2019 to $6.07 billion in 2025, at a compound annual growth rate 32%. The study indicated a number of factors are driving growth of the market, including increasing penetration of the Internet across all key regions, robust sales of personal computers and mobile devices that increased the demand for more IP addresses, and the rapid growth of the Internet of Things (“IoT”).

Benefits of IPv6

IPv6 uses a 128-bit addressing scheme, compared with the 32-bit addressing scheme used by IPv4. Not only does it have the capability to support far more devices than the previous version, but it can increase packet handling efficiency, enhance performance and significantly improve security, the report notes.

Internet giant Google collects statistics about IPv6 adoption on an ongoing basis by continuously measuring the availability of IPv6 connectivity among Google users. As of the end of April 2022, 40% of users had access to the protocol, an increase from 28% during early 2020.

Major Internet and cloud computing forces such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) are embracing this protocol. For example, in April 2022 AWS announced that Amazon Relational Database Service (“RDS”) now offers customers the option to use IPv6 addresses in their Virtual Private Cloud (“VPC”) on new and existing RDS instances.

The continued growth of the Internet is exhausting the available IPv4 addresses. “IPv6 increases the number of available addresses several fold and customers no longer need to manage overlapping address spaces in their VPCs,” AWS states.

China’s Effort for Faster IPv6 Adoption

Other countries are making plans to leverage the latest Internet protocol to handle the increasing number of devices and networks. For example, China’s Central Cyberspace Administration announced a plan for further and faster adoption of IPv6 nationwide and outlined plans to drive new developments for the protocol, according to an April 2022 report in The Register.

Such report indicates that China has set a number of goals for IPv6 adoption by the end of 2022, including 700 million active IPv6 users; 180 million IPv6 connections for IoT; IPv6 use by 13% of fixed network traffic; IPv6 use by 45% of mobile traffic; IPv6 adoption by 85% of government and major commercial websites; and IPv6 enablement by default in all new home routers.

A 10-point plan to achieve those goals includes initiatives to encourage greater adoption of IPv6 by cloud platforms, video streamers, and in major industries such as financial services and agriculture, according to The Register report.

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