Although there has been no great fuss made, no pin badges sold and no banners waved, Monday 4th February is for all intents and purposes the day IPv6 grows up. Because from that day, IPv6 IP addresses will be able to be directly translated into domain names and vice versa, without the need for the old IPv4 protocol. Some see this as the single most important step so far in the race towards IPv6 implementation before the store of IPv4 addresses is finally exhausted. Most experts seem to agree that these will start running out in earnest from the start of 2010. So Monday 4th February is a date for the geek calendar because for the first time any user will be able to visit a website without having to use the old IPv4 internet.
Here in the UK, Claranet has been one of the few Internet Service Providers to bring IPv6 capabilities to its customers, launching a native IPv6 service as far back as 2002. Claranet's Group Network Manager, Dave Freedman, is talking up the advantages which, he says, include vastly greater IP address space, ease of administration and integrated encryption capability. He's also talking down the response of the Internet industry as a whole and central UK Government in particular to the problem of IPv4 address exhaustion.
"Many ISPs haven't implemented IPv6 for a very simple reason" he told DaniWeb "customers haven't asked for it yet. It is only now, with IPv4 exhaustion just around the corner that many organisations are beginning to take this issue seriously. Internet address space will start running out in two years time unless ISPs adopt the new version of the Internet Protocol, IPv6, across their networks. Although modern computers, servers, routers and other online devices are able to use IPv6, many ISPs have yet to implement the system. Meanwhile, the UK Government is failing to take the lead in preparing the country for IPv4 address exhaustion."