No qualifier seemed bombastic enough to evoke the migration that occurred Wednesday 6th of June on the Internet: “large amplitude”, “historical day”, “critical for internet” or even “nuclear transition”… That day, part of the world switched to IPv6.
In practical terms, IPv6 (Internet provider version 6) was created to deal with the long anticipated problem of IPv4 running out of addresses. These addresses are public, individual and unique, like a phone number. Since 1983 all connected machines recognize each other through these IPv4 addresses (the old version). They are coded in such a manner that “only” 4.3 billion addresses exist. When the current system was invented, nobody imagined that we would ever run out, but with the explosion in the number of devices that connect to the Internet it became necessary to enlarge the net… just to be sure that tomorrow´s fridges would be able to be connected.
With the IPv6 it would be possible to have an infinite number of IP addresses: 3.4 x 1038 , so about 667 000 addresses on every square millimeter of the Earth´s surface, or if we prefer looking at the sky, an entire IPv4 internet for every star in the universe.
Since the 6th of July, the IPv4 and the IPv6 addresses have been recognized by most of web big players and we are heading towards the generalisation of IPv6. The progressive migration will take an unknown number of years and the mainstream users will see no difference.
Let´s have a look on how this huge change was reflected in the media.
Traditional media did not pay a lot of attention to this topic. The changes could be “historical” or “critical”, but if they did not have practical applications or a direct influence they did not really interest basic internet users… nor traditional media. It is quite interesting that one of the biggest transformations ever experienced by the internet concerned such a limited number of its users. It gives the impression that few people are aware of what happened and that the fate of such an important tool belongs to a handful of gurus.
The good news comes from the internet itself: web news, blogs, boards… we find 10 times more articles on IPv6 than for print media. It is not really a surprise, the best place to speak about the internet is definitely on the internet.
Well, there is no reason to be concerned. We just hope that this new stock of addresses will not be exhausted in 30 years. Infinity is relative.