Today 8 June, 2011, Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Akamai and Limelight Networks will be amongst some of the major organisations that will offer their content over IPv6 for a 24-hour “test flight”. The goal of the Test Flight Day is to motivate organizations across the industry – Internet service providers, hardware makers, operating system vendors and web companies – to prepare their services for IPv6 to ensure a successful transition as IPv4 addresses run out.
As the Internet developed there was debate over the network communications protocol to use, but ultimately the fourth revision of IP (IPv4) was implemented for communication between computers and networks. When the Internet was small the 32-bit addressing of IPv4 that limits it to just over 4 billion addresses was perfectly adequate, but recently the last sets of IPv4 addresses have been issued, meaning the size of the IPv4 Internet has reached its maximum.
To overcome this limitation, the Internet Engineering Task Force has been developing a 128-bit addressing system called IPv6 that allows for trillions upon trillions of additional unique addresses (340 undecillion, to be exact). Unfortunately, the addressing between these protocols is vastly different and not directly compatible, and networking companies have been reluctant to implement IPv6 while there was still room for IPv4. Nevertheless, the symbolic limit of IPv4 has come and the pressure is high for companies to start implementing IPv6 if they have not already done so.
What this means is that if you are using various Internet services tomorrow and are experiencing loss of connectivity or slowdowns, then be aware that this is likely because of problems with the IPv6 protocol. Some of the problems you may encounter during these tests include:
- Internet servers not responding
- intermittent connectivity after delays
- unresponsive browsers if you use a built-in search field
- slow loading and pauses in downloads, as well as incomplete downloads; and
- slow or incomplete actions for Internet-related activities that aren’t Web browsing, such as syncing and e-mail.
To help prevent these problems from happening, you can make sure your system is configured to use IPv6 if your ISP supports it.
~via Internet Society