The Internet is getting an upgrade on Wednesday

June 3, 2012

The Internet is getting an upgrade on WednesdayUnlike most other upgrades, you probably won’t even notice that this one is taking place.  The Internet is moving from IPv4 to IPv6 this coming Wednesday.  Yes that’s right the Internet was running out of addresses and so had to upgrade so it wouldn’t run out.

According to PhysOrg the transition should be rather smooth and without incident.  The current system while allowing for billions of addresses has already been exhausted.  The new Internet Protocol (IP) version allows for trillions of IP addresses and hopefully will be able to accommodate ongoing growth in devices that connect to the Internet.  Every device that has an Internet connection including your smartphone, computer, tablet, TV, router and smart home network must have an IP address.

While the transition to IPv6 will begin this Wednesday, it is expected to take several years for the total transition to be finished.  In the meantime all of our devices and networks that were designed and work with IPv4 will continue to function as always.  The only part that might present problems is when IPv4 devices connect to IPv6 devices and networks. 

But with the IPv4 and IPv6 systems coexisting, the connections need to find a compatible "path," which sometimes may be longer than usual, said Vegoda.

If there are not enough paths available, someone connecting to a Web page from the United States might have to be routed across the Atlantic and then back again, a phenomenon known as "tromboning."

Eventually, Internet users will have to switch all of their equipment to IPv6 compatible devices.  That means for most of us that have a modem for TV and/or the Internet, we will have to upgrade to a new modem.  Internet providers are getting prepared to switch out IPv4 routers for IPv6 ones.  Experts are suggesting that businesses that routinely work with other businesses that have already switched to the new protocol, need to hurry up and join them.

All in all, this system should work more smoothly than when everyone had to move from local phone numbers that were only seven digits long to the ten digit system. In large metropolitan areas they had to introduce new area codes to increase the number of landline, fax, and smartphone numbers available. 

With the switch to IPv6, all you have to do is eventually upgrade equipment as it wears out.  No need to memorize a whole new set of numbers.

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