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05 Nov 2015
IPv4 is running out and the
problems that this causes get more acute every day. How bad is
it? ARIN, the regional internet registry covering North
America, recently exhausted its supply completely, meaning that
companies in the region can now only attain addresses through
Cisco estimates that 50 billion
devices will be online by 2020, and Ericsson says 90% of the
world’s population will use a mobile phone by
then. To fulfil the potential of the IoT, each device will need
an IP address.
However, IPv4 only has 4.3
billion addresses. The solution is IPv6, which offers the same
functionality as IPv4 but there’s far more of it:
340 trillion, trillion, trillion addresses.
This means there’s
an immediate opportunity for telecoms providers to lead IPv6
adoption. Not only will this safeguard the future growth of the
Internet, but it can also give a significant strategic
In the short term, IPv4 trading
can prolong IPv4’s lifespan. However, as IPv4
shortages become more severe, the price per address will rise.
This is a dangerous market; at the point when obtaining IPv4
costs more than rolling out IPv6, there will be a sudden shift
and IPv4’s value will plummet.
Some people argue there are
alternative workarounds like carrier-grade NAT, which can
extend the life of IPv4. However, NATs cannot scale
indefinitely and have to be layered, creating complex routing
tables, and if something breaks it will affect lots of people
instead of just one person.
These repercussions can be
expensive to manage and fix. Many business communication and
collaboration tools also need end-to-end connectivity, rendered
impossible by NATs.
The next generation of
technology, from the IoT to driver-less cars to healthcare,
will only be possible with end-to-end connections. Apple
already requires all new apps to support IPv6 so that
developers and customers won’t be caught short
when IPv6 takes off.
Telecoms providers can attract
innovators by offering a future-proofed environment. IPv6 is
gaining momentum at an exponential rate; the number of users
accessing Google over IPv6 has increased from just over 2% to
nearly 9% in just two years.
Waiting for IPv6 to gain even
more momentum will undoubtedly mean missing out on a number of
opportunities – and customers. This is especially
important when you remember that IPv4 and IPv6
don’t speak the same language, so if you have an
IPv4-only network, no one using IPv6 can access your
IPv6 as the global standard is
inevitable – there’s simply no other way
for the Internet to work in the future. The telecoms industry
is the best placed to take the lead, ushering in a new
generation of technological innovation with infinite