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Why IPv6 is unavoidable, and vital to your web traffic


06 July 2016

Tim Rooney

Blogs by author: Tim Rooney, Diamond IP Product Management Director, BT.


Global IPv4 address exhaustion is a reality. And the solution, Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), is building momentum.

Internet Protocol (IP), is essential to the internet as we know it. IP addresses allow computers and digital devices to be pinpointed and differentiated. In the same way a postal service needs an address to deliver a letter to you, a remote server needs your IP address to communicate with your computer.

Worryingly though, with the single exception of Afrinic, all major Regional Internet Registries have officially exhausted their available IPv4 address space. It’s the equivalent of the country running out of post codes.

Percentge of Google Hits Using IPv6

How we’re dealing with this.
So far, the internet’s still using IPv4. And Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who need more IPv4 address space have to give serious justification before any request is granted. For now, ISP subscriber growth can be satisfied with what’s left of IPv4 address space and the use of carrier grade NATs (Network Address Translation).

What happens when IPv4 runs out?
That’s where IPv6 steps in. IPv6 was developed to deal with the (long-anticipated) problem of IPv4 address exhaustion. It’s eventually intended to replace IPv4.

Broadening end-user device IPv6 support means that any growth strategy ultimately requires IPv6 implementation. And many enterprises are already actively engaged in deploying IPv6.

This deployment is gaining momentum. Google is measuring the percentage of IPv6 users accessing their websites and the percentage of users accessing via IPv6 recently topped 12 per cent. Extrapolating this metric, we see the IPv6 density of the internet almost doubling to around 22 per cent in two years.

This will have a huge impact.
If users accessing your website, servers and other internet applications come from the internet, it’s a very good idea to start deploying IPv6 now (if you haven’t already).

Consider the fact that in two years, one in five internet users might not be able to access your website. That’s a huge amount of lost opportunity in terms of commerce, communications, and information sharing.

While dual stack devices do attempt IPv6 connections first, and then try IPv4 connections, at some point they won’t have access to an IPv4 address — only IPv6. Major ISPs have pervasively deployed IPv6 already, and Android and Apple iOS mobile platforms require support from IPv6-only networks.

What you can do about it.
If you haven’t deployed, or even considered, IPv6 implementation, check out our free online tools. They help you understand business drivers for IPv6, return on investment (ROI) and IPv6 addressing and subnetting.

How the calculators work.
Depending on what you want to know, there are plenty of tools to choose from. Our business needs assessment provides qualitative feedback based on key IPv6 attributes. And the IPv6 ROI calculator lets you see revenue versus cost for your IPv6 deployment. This one also lets you tweak cost parameters — so you can fine-tune your ROI.

There’s also a subnet calculator, and an address planner, so you can experiment with IPv6 subnetting and try different address allocation models. These sound technical, but they’re just another way to determine which approach works best for your network.

BT is ready to talk you through the next steps, so head over to use the tools now.