FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK
What Happens When We Run Out of IP Addresses?
While attending the opening session of our IP Satellite Summit in May, I heard very little discussion on IP Version 6 (IPv6), a term I had scribbled in my notebook months earlier from SATELLITE 2009, where DISA Principal Director Richard Williams discussed how the U.S military is preparing for future with IPv6 network applications. Then, in the middle of a heated debate between engineers over bentpipe versus network routing architecture superiority, an audience member from the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), asked a simple, yet interesting question – “What happens to your IP developments when we run out of IP addresses?”
Perhaps the question came from concern over a May report from Cisco Systems, which projected that the IANA pool of unallocated IP addresses would be exhausted in June 2011, with various regional Internet registries using up their allocations from IANA in March 2012. In fact, there is now consensus among regional Internet registries that final milestones of the exhaustion process will be passed in 2010 or 2011, at the latest. The panel assured the audience that they were prepared for the IP exhaustion, without mention of IPv6, which has been created as the solution.
While IPv6 and IPv4 (the current version) will be compatible, IPv6 brings some new capabilities that are being overlooked. The most important feature of IPv6 is a much larger 128-bit address space compared to 32-bit addresses in IPv4. Longer IP addresses allow for better allocation of addresses and efficient route aggregation. IPv6 also is more flexible and designed to support future QOS applications, boost security and allow for greater mobility.
With so much talk over IP technology development, it surprises me that the industry has been relatively quiet over IPv6. Are we looking towards the future? Or will the industry deal with it in the present and find itself already behind?
— Jeffrey Hill, News Editor.
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