Why do we need the changeover?
Every device that is connected to the internet (or any network) has an IP address. This IP address is similar to your house address or telephone number, whereby it is unique to you. It acts as an identifier for requesting and receiving information.
The current standard, IPv4, uses 32-bit addresses, which gives just over 4 billion (4, 294, 967, 296 to be exact) possible combinations of addresses. Why is this a problem you may ask! Well, given that the current world population is 6, 840, 507, 003 people (Source: Google) there are clearly not enough IP addresses to go around. Furthermore, a vast number of people have multiple internet connected devices, like computers, tablets, phones, tv's etc.
As a results, ISP's (Internet service providers) need to share these IP addresses between customers, sometimes meaning internet connections being disconnected.
What's the solution?
The solution is to increase the number of IP addresses available. How do we do that? By using IPv6 of course!! IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses , which gives 340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (3.4 x 1028) IP addresses.
For the changeover to be implemented completely, every internet service provider will need to switch their systems over. Therefore, the transition to IPv6 will happen gradually, with both protocols running simultaneously.
If you've ever heard of an IP address (IPv4), you'll know that it takes for the form of 4 numbers, each between 0 and 255. For example, 192.168.0.1 is a common one for your home router. By contrast, the IPv6 formatting is 8 groups of four hexadecminal digits, separated by colons eg. 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334. You needn't lose any sleep over it though! Your internet services should remain undisrupted during the transition and you will probably not even realise when it's happening.
Who is using IPv6?
Many ISP's, websites and router vendors have already made the switchover to IPv6. Some examples are:
For more information, visit the world IPv6 launch website.