Recently, Comcast demonstrated its network readiness for the switch to IPv6 addresses. Believe it or not, the internet is not infinite. In fact, it is running out of space rather quickly. That is, the current version of Internet Protocol is running out of space. What we now use is known as IPv4, and experts believe that we will run out of addresses by 2011. 188.8.131.52 is an example of what we generally think of when we think of IP addresses. But the industry will soon be switching IPv6, which will look like 2001:db8:85a3::8a2e:370:7334. IPv6 has a much larger address space than IPv4. “This results from the use of a 128-bit address, whereas IPv4 uses only 32 bits. The new address space thus supports 2128 (about 3.4×1038) addresses.” That’s quite an increase from IPv4’s 4 billion available addresses.
As you may have guessed, the two protocols aren’t compatible with one another. Fortunately, our ISPs are doing everything they can to prepare for the IPv6 switch. Comcast says, “[w]e are making our network fully IPv6-enabled so that Web-hosting companies, Internet sites and content providers that connect to Comcast’s Internet backbone to deliver content and services can do so using IPv4 and IPv6 protocols.” The ISP reiterated its claim by stating, “[w]e are committed to providing our customers with IPv6-ready services before IPv4 depletion reaches a critical point.” In addition to Comcast, Time Warner is also working on preparing its network for IPv6.
By supporting IPv4 and IPv6 for an amount of time, ISPs will avoid a number of headaches. Think of it as the DTV switch done correctly. Nicely done Comcast, you’re thinking ahead and doing something right.