IPv6 test drive tomorrow

Tuesday 7 June 2011, 12.01am HKT

The world switches over to IPv6 tomorrow for 24 hours and big swaths of the Internet might not be accessible to you during that time.

Tomorrow, 8th June 2011, is World IPv6 Day. Google, Facebook, Yahoo and some other web services and ISPs will switch over to the new IP addressing system called IPv6 for a 24-hour global test drive.

Kickoff time is 00.00 hours BST/GMT on 8th June 2011 — or 19.00 hours Eastern Standard Time or 09.00 hours Tokyo time. Work out your own local time equivalent.

Test your IPv6 connectivity here: http://test-ipv6.com.

The reason for test driving IPv6 is the Intarwebz is running out of IP addresses.

Currently, we’re on IPv4. That is a 32-bit number system and allows for about 4.3 billion (4,300 million) possible IP addresses — more than ample to go round when IPv4 was designed back in the 1970s to handle the small number of government and university establishments that made up the Internet. Today, IPv4 is only left with 117 million IP addresses to spare.

IPv6 is a 128-bit system developed in 1995 and provides for, in all practical respects, an infinite number of IP addresses.

For conspiracy nutters theorists, IPv6 is not interoperable with IPv4 and essentially creates a parallel, independent network.

* * *

What’s an IP address?

An IP address is a unique numerical label given to each networked device on the Internet. It has two key functions: host/network interface identification and location addressing.

The role of the IP address is often characterised in this way:

name indicates what we seek.

An address indicates where it is.

route indicates how to get there.

An IP address like takes you to http://www.facebook.com that you type in your browser.

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