With the internet of things, more and more devices are connected, from computers to refrigerators, watches, and even sports shoes.
Devices connect to each other through their respective IP addresses, a set of numbers separated by dots that serve to identify a device within a network, whether it is private or public. The addressing system that has been used since the Internet was born is called IPv4. However, it is easier for people to remember a name than the numbers of an IP address. That is why domain names were devised, for example: it is easier to remember uvg.edu.gt instead of 22.214.171.124. This version of IP has been the basis of the Internet as we know it, and establishes all the rules for computer networks.
Currently, IPv4 numbers have practically been depleted, even though there are more than 4 billion of them. This is why it is necessary to replace IPv4 with the new addressing system called IPv6. This protocol greatly expands the numbers available for devices and services connected to the Internet.
The addresses in IPv6 have a theoretical maximum of 3 hundred undecillion numbers (3 followed by 38 zeroes). This number is so large that it is nearly impossible to understand or visualize it. Suffice it to say that for every square meter of land in the world there are 100 numbers available. The numbering scheme is also different. For example, the IPv6 number for registro.gt is represented as follows: 2001:4b98:dc0:41:216:3eff:fe7d:d625. By now it should be clear that it is easier to use domain names rather than IP numbers!
Security is improved in this new protocol. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) that developed it also included a feature that provides confidentiality, authentication and data integrity, IPSec. With these security protocols, packages containing malware can be avoided.
Self-configuration is a new quality that allows IPv6 enabled devices to generate an address when it is turned on; this is called local link address. The device can communicate with other hardware in the local network without any other step. This simplifies the configuration of the network. This works only within a local network, for example, a house, a building, etc. It doesn’t work to connect to the internet, since that requires a public and unique number in the world.
Efficiency is another advantage, IPv6 ensures that packet processing and data transmission is faster, which is important for real-time services.
Who is responsible for changing to the new protocol?
Experts indicate that replacing IPv4 with IPv6 will not affect the end user, unless they have very old equipment that doesn’t handle IPv6. However, institutions/users that don’t make the transition will have connection failures, since the two versions are not compatible. It is possible to make some temporary fixes but they will cause delays and will produce a sub-par experience.
There are already many products and services that are enabled for IPv6 by default. So that all these devices can work with IPv6, we will have to wait until the Internet Service Providers (ISP) activates this service. Although it will be easier to make the transition with mobiles, you never know what will happen with some companies.
Guatemala ranks 51st in IPv6 adoption in the world with 10.1% of internet users. To get more users to adopt the new protocol requires the commitment and effort of Internet Service Providers (ISP). It’s important to let ISPs know of the importance of making the change to the new IPv6.
To find out if your computer and your connection are ready for the IPv6 protocol test your connection here.
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