Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6), a new global Internet Protocol, will allow creation of trillions of new web addresses in the future. It will also secure the safest way of communication over the Internet through a safe exchange of data packets and information making it formidable against attacks from spywares and malwares.
Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) is the latest version of Internet Protocol (IP) developed by Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and was launched globally on 6 June this year. It is intended to succeed Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) as the dominant communications protocol used over the Internet.
The traditional communication network is undergoing a big change and is transforming into a packet-based Next Generation Network (NGN). The IP is basically a communication protocol used for transferring packets of data across a network. The current version of IP – IPv4 – is about 27 years old and has several limitations. It is to be replaced by IPv6 so as to overcome these limitations. Internet Society of India organised the launch as it represents a major milestone in the history of data transfer over the Internet. As a result of prior initiatives taken by the Department of Telecommunication (DoT), the majority of service providers in India are ready to offer IPv6 services to handle increased Internet traffic. According to DoT, 27 Indian websites have already stepped over to the IPv6 platform. Many Indian enterprises are already on their way to make inventory checks of their IT resources that are now for dual IPv4/IPv6 support and roll-out migration projects.
India has, at present, 35 million IPv4 addresses against a user base of about 360 million data users. In addition the Government has fixed a target of 160 million broadband subscriber base by 2017 and 600 million by 2020. Moreover, there is a strong security requirement to provide unique IP addresses to each data user. As IPv6 is more advanced in comparison with IPv4 the transition from one protocol to the other will be a mammoth task and expected to be a long-term exercise during which both the protocols will co-exist. To facilitate the widespread introduction of IPv6 in India, a policy document called ‘National IPv6 Deployment Roadmap’ was released by DoT way back in July 2010. The main focus of the roadmap was to update the Indian population and enable it to take the first step in the transition towards IPv6.
As IPv6 is more advanced in comparison with IPv4, the transition from one to the other will be a mammoth, long-term exercise during which both the protocols will co-exist. To facilitate widespread introduction, a policy document, ‘National IPv6 Deployment Roadmap’ was released by the Department of Telecom in July 2010.
The current versi
on of the Internet Protocol, i.e. IPv4, has many limitations. The biggest limitation is its 32-bit addressing space resulting in about 4.3 billion IP addresses. The rapid growth of the Internet through broadband as well as wireless subscribers has accelerated consumption of IP addresses with the result that IPv4 addresses are almost exhausted today. To overcome this problem IPv6 was developed by IETF way back in the early 1990s. The IPv6 improves on the addressing capacities of IPv4 by using 128-bit addressing instead of 32-bit, thereby practically making available an almost infinite pool of IP addresses.
Multicasting, the transmission of a packet to multiple destinations in a single send operation, is a part of the base specification in IPv6. In IPv4 this is an optional although commonly implemented feature. IPv6 multicast addressing shares common features and protocols with IPv4 multicast, but provides changes and improvements by eliminating the need for certain protocols. IPv6 does not implement traditional IP broadcast, i.e. the transmission of a packet of data to all hosts on the attached link using a special broadcast address, and therefore does not define any broadcast addresses.
Besides multicasting and a huge array of IPs to be offered, IPv6 gives the users end-to-end security; its auto configuration simplifies network configuration and IP Host Mobility, etc. There was a need to have IPv6 test bed in India so that the vendors and the stakeholders can test their equipments for IPv6 compatibility and readiness. Accordingly, an IPv6 test bed had been installed by the Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC) which is a subsidiary of DoT to foster explicit IPv6 harmonisation across the entire ecosystem. The only way to facilitate this migration, technology-wise, is to dual-stack the current networks to allow for existing IPv4 addresses to continue, while making more addresses. This involves hardware costs and manpower expenditure by the Internet Service Providers (ISPs). The projected increase of global IP traffic between 2015 and 2016 alone is more than 330 exabytes, which is almost equal to the total amount of global IP traffic generated in 2011 (369 exabytes).
India will have two billion networked devices by 2016 – double from devices in 2011 which stood at one billion. By 2016, there are expected to be 3.4 billion Internet users which is about 45 per cent of the world’s projected population according to United Nations estimates.
India’s Internet traffic is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 64 per cent between 2011 and 2016. In Asia Pacific, there will be a total of 1.7 billion Internet users in 2016, up from 935 million in 2011. As the country sees an explosive rise in the number of devices that connect to the web, lack of new addresses will choke the Internet growth and thus the adoption of IPv6 is important for both the government and the private enterprises. Till now the major ISPs are also in support of the move, but most of them are yet to make any official commitment to migrate to IPv6. Government websites managed by National Informatics Centre (NIC) have been made IPv6 compliant but a complete transition is still running behind schedule.