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Need to know: IPv6 explained
18 Apr 2012

According to the Office for National Statistics, SME’s make up 99.9 percent of the total number of businesses in the UK; providing 59.1 percent of all private sector jobs and generating 48.7 percent of total public sector turnover. In today’s technology driven environment, to succeed, businesses need to remain up-to-date with the latest technology. The Internet plays a critical role in business operations and as such, with the impending transition of IPv4 to IPv6, SMEs need to adopt early to reap the benefits or face the challenge of working through blank screens.

So what is IPv6 and why is it relevant to business?

Every Internet connected device has a unique identifier known as an Internet Protocol (IP) address but the current standard, IPv4, is running out and its replacement, IPv6, is not backwards compatible. This means that IPv6 must be universally adopted or connectivity problems will ensue.

As every connected device, from desktop computers to smartphones, and even some fridges and microwaves, needs an IP address. The rapid expansion of devices has meant that the four billion IPv4 addresses originally created are no longer enough. IPv6 allows for a lot more addresses (roughly 340 trillion trillion trillion in total) and guarantees the continued expansion of the Internet.

The RIPE NCC, the Regional Internet Registry for Europe, the Middle East and parts of central Asia, which is responsible for allocating IP addresses, expects to completely run out of IPv4 addresses by end of 2012. This means that businesses now need to make sure they are IPv6 ready or risk damaging their business. For instance, a company running on IPv4 may be safe for now, but when users start to come online with IPv6 only devices, the site will be inaccessible – as IPv4 and IPv6 addresses are not backwards compatible. This potential loss of custom can of course have a hugely detrimental impact on any business.


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