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With World IPv6 Launch, IPv6 on by default will be the new normal
18 Apr 2012

Some “technologies of the future” stubbornly remain in the future and resist becoming technologies of the present. Case in point: fusion energy. For a long time, IPv6 seemed to fall into that category. But now, could it finally be for real? Anyone who missed the memo: current IP addresses are 32 bits long and are running out. IPv6 fixes this with addresses that are 128 bits long. But this only works when you actually run IPv6. Last year, some big players did exactly that for one day as a test. This year, the idea is to leave it on.

I’m at the 83rd IETF meeting in Paris this week (the same Internet Engineering Task Force that created IPv6 in the first place in the 1990s). I went to my first IETF meeting in 2002. Back then there was a lot of IPv6 work going on, although there was plenty of IPv6 skepticism heard in the hallways. A decade later, IPv6 is a given. Only when I try to check Dutch news sites to see if we still have a government do I notice that I’m on the IPv6-only WiFi network. All the IETF-related pages and tools are available over IPv6 as a matter of course. That isn’t to say no IPv6-related work is going on, but that work happens in maintenance and operations working groups. In fact, the IETF leadership is now thinking about chartering a “v4exit” working group to focus on an orderly shutdown of the old IPv4 protocol.


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