Newbie Guide Into The IPv6 Era

On June 6, 2012, IPv6 was introduced on a permanent basis. This action was called the global launch of the protocol IPv6, and it became a very powerful demonstration of support for this protocol from the global IT industry. For websites this procedure was the same as last year, except for the registration in the global DNS is not a single time activity but was done once and for all.

Lots of users and website owners were concerned if they were still able to enter the web or run successfully their websites. The answer is YES! All IPv4 devices will still work, though IPv4 and IPv6 are not directly compatible. Researchers realized that you can’t simply flip a switch and turn off IPv4 while most of the world still depends on it. IPv6 devices are built using a process called dual stack that allows IPv6 and IPv4 run simultaneously alongside each other.

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No doubt that while browsing the web or setting up home Wi-Fi network you’ve ran across the terms IPv4 or IPv6. These terms stand for the versions of the Internet Protocols. Unfortunately most people have no clue what these terms mean, and when there appears desire to know more – they simply can’t find explanation in a “human language”.

We’ve gathered here to dispel all doubts concerning the notions IPv4 and IPv6. Let’s start from the nuts and bolts: “IP” stands for the Internet Protocol which refers to the communicational protocol or a packet transfer procedure of the Internet.

Every device which connects to the Internet uses a unique IP address which is an analogue of your home address. Pieces of data are transferred via the Internet from one machine to another, and they are called “packets”. The transfer of packets will be impossible if two machines communicating through the Internet did not have the IPs. Think of the IP as of a home or an office address, if you are sending the mail, not an e-mail, and you did not fill in the address of a recipient, your mail will not reach the destination.

IPv4 is an older version of an internet address procedure. Now there are no more free IPv4 addresses, all of them are already busy and soon new users will not be able to dive into the Web. That is why there appeared the necessity to have a new version of an internet address procedure.

IPv6 provided us with free IPs for a thousand years ahead. The IPv4 supports a 32 bit address that’s why if we count we had 2^32 IP addresses available for assignment and it’s somewhere 4,290,000,000 IPs.

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IPv6 uses 128 bit address allowing maximum 2^128 available IPs, and it makes 340,282,366,920,938,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (that will sound like: three hundred forty undecillion, two hundred eighty-two decillion, three hundred sixty-six nonillion, nine hundred twenty octillion, nine hundred thirty-eight septillion!!!) new ones, that is a really big number.

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By 2016, 39% of all existing Internet-compatible devices will be able to connect to wireless networks using IPv6. In other words, the network will be able to work with more than four billion devices.

Comparison table of an IPv4 and IPv6 features:

IPv4

IPv6

Addresses are 32 bits (4 bytes) in length. Addresses are 128 bits (16 bytes) in length
Address (A) resource records in DNS to map host names to IPv4 addresses. Address (AAAA) resource records in DNS to map host names to IPv6 addresses.
Pointer (PTR) resource records in the IN-ADDR.ARPA DNS domain to map IPv4 addresses to host names. Pointer (PTR) resource records in the IP6.ARPA DNS domain to map IPv6 addresses to host names.
IPSec is optional and should be supported externally IPSec support is not optional
Header does not identify packet flow for QoS handling by routers Header contains Flow Label field, which Identifies packet flow for QoS handling by router.
Both routers and the sending host fragment packets. Routers do not support packet fragmentation. Sending host fragments packets
Header includes a checksum. Header does not include a checksum.
Header includes options. Optional data is supported as extension headers.
ARP uses broadcast ARP request to resolve IP to MAC/Hardware address. Multicast Neighbor Solicitation messages resolve IP addresses to MAC addresses.
Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) manages membership in local subnet groups. Multicast Listener Discovery (MLD) messages manage membership in local subnet groups.
Broadcast addresses are used to send traffic to all nodes on a subnet. IPv6 uses a link-local scope all-nodes multicast address.
Configured either manually or through DHCP. Does not require manual configuration or DHCP.
Must support a 576-byte packet size (possibly fragmented). Must support a 1280-byte packet size (without fragmentation).

Internet Service Providers will be able to use IPv6 to connect new customers to the web, while existing customers are unlikely to notice this change. Website owners need to speak to their ISPs or hosting companies to get IPv6 turned on their existing Internet connection. Enjoy your new IPs.

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