Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6), the new version of the Internet address protocol was developed to supplement (and eventually replace) IPv4, the version that underpins the Internet today. This was because nearly all the 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses are already assigned globally as against the 340 trillion unique IPv6 addresses.
Every computer, mobile phone and device connected on the Internet needs an IP Address in order to communicate with other devices. The Internet Community is coming to terms with the fact that IPv4 can no longer serve it effectively, considering the rapid growth of Internet users in the world. There is no doubt that the adoption and impact of IPv6 will greatly enhance the availability of domain names. IPv6 is designed to co-exist with IPv4 and support Internet services and applications.
Today’s networking requirements extend beyond support for web pages and email. The explosive growth in network device diversity and mobile communications, along with global adoption of networking technologies, new services and social networks are overwhelming IPv4 and had necessitated the development of IPv6.
The adoption of IPv6 has been spurred by the deployment of a number of technologies. Current versions of major computer operating systems, including those on mobile devices, have inbuilt support for IPv6; Recent network equipment, such as switches, routers and modems include support for IPv6.
Regional registries such as AFRINIC have shifted their major focus to IPv6 by taking up the awareness, publicity and training of IPv6 as a major challenge to help organizations with the transition and adoption of numbering system. Recently the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA) in conjunction with Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) and University of Ibadan, hosted an AFRINIC INRM and IPv6 training in Lagos. The training was aimed at encouraging the IPv6 adoption and implementation.
Hardware companies have also taken the adoption of IPv6 as a major requirement by making sure all new hardware are now dual stack i.e. IPv4 and IPv6 compliant. Despite the availability of IPv6 addresses, awareness, publicity and training on the IPv6 adoption being carried out by several organizations worldwide, the adoption is still low.
While progress is being made with Internet penetration, the gap in IPv6 readiness between different countries and individual networks is significant. This widening gap could lead to a negative impact on the economic and societal benefits of the Internet. It is important that all stakeholders continue to encourage IPv6 adoption to ensure the long-term growth of the Internet. Much action still needs to be taken by network operators, content providers, software and hardware developers and enterprises amongst others to implement IPv6 in their products, services and operations.
Finally, it is important for all governments to thoroughly understand the challenges and advantages of IPv6; they should be responsive to and engage with their Internet Community and relevant stakeholders. In addition to engaging national industry players, governments should seek to engage their respective regional Internet registry (RIR) to find IPv6 information and resources on IPv6 deployment and to participate in related discussions. Organizations and forums, such as the Internet Society, global and regional Internet Governance Forums (IGF), and network operators groups, should promote the adoption of IPv6, provide learning opportunities about IPv6 for smooth transition from IPv4 to IPv6.