Internet Protocol (IP) in layman's terms is the language of the Internet. It defines how data is exchanged between network devices and applications. The language is described in protocols. There are more than a hundred protocols being used today (excluding those that are already decommissioned). When you surf the Internet, you will basically be using the HTTP protocol, over TCP and over IP. If your connectivity is DSL or WIFI, you will most likely be using the DHCP protocol to request for an IP address from your ISP.
The IP that we have today (here in Phils) is IPv4. That stands for IP version 4. A 30 year old technology. IPv6 or IP version 6 was designed as a replacement of IPv4. It is an upgrade to address a myriad of issues and limitations of IPv4. Make no mistake, IPv4 was a great success. It did right. It was a great invention that propels to where we are now. But a technology designed 30 years ago could not simply meet the demands today. Technology wise, IPv4 is simply outdated.
So why we are still left in the dust with IPv4? There are a lot of factors. But two things are clear. First, telco companies have neglected and completely shunned away from IPv6. They completely misunderstood the long term benefits of IPv6 technologies. Second, there is no government mandate for the transition and deployment of IPv6. Telcos and ISPs can simply do whatever they want without pressure from the government. Its always in the direction of their businesses. So why deploy IPv6 when IPv4 is still raking money? In countries like Phils, IPv6
deployment requires political will. In comparison, the US government mandated all of its agencies to transition to IPv6 by year 2008. Its now or never.
Let me summarize the benefits of IPv6 for average netizens. These would give us a jolt of awareness to rally and pressure telcos to deploy IPv6.
- IPv6 has bigger IP address space than IPv4. This means there is enough IPv6 address to everyone around the world. Unlike IPv4 where most residential subscribers are allocated with private IP address. Everyone can have their own public IPv6 address. No more private IP addresses in IPv6.
- Public means global and within reach. IPv6 IP address allows seamless end to end communication. Gone are the days of the dreadful NAT (Network Address Translation) and proxies. Residential subscribers can launch their own websites, file servers, etc from their homes. IPv6 appliances are very common in Japan this days. Yes, an IPv6 fridge!
- IPv6 has auto address configuration. An IPv6 enabled device when plugged to a network can automatically configure its own IPv6 address. There is always a link-local address (auto configured) for every IPv6 enabled device. The link-local address can be used to communicate between devices on the same network segment. So if you have a single flat network, you wouldn't bother assigning IP address to every devices attached to the network.
- An IPv6 enabled device is loaded with security suite in AH (Authentication Header) and ESP (Encapsulating Security Payload). AH and ESP are always available in an IPv6 enabled device. This allows you to deploy end to end security. For instance you might want to setup an encrypted IPv6 tunnel between your home and office. There are a handful of IPv4 devices that support AH and ESP. In contrast, all IPv6 enabled devices support AH and ESP.
- IPv6 is the default IP in Windows Vista, no longer IPv4! And why would Microsoft do that?