Could the Change to IPv6 Break the Internet?

Mike Halsey MVP
Nov 11, 2010
Updated • Dec 4, 2012

It's been widely reported that the old IPv4 Internet addressing system is creaking under the weight of the demands placed on it and that the available addresses will run out completely by January 2012.  It's replacement, IPv6 has now been with us for a while but it's worldwide roll-out is hardly something that can be called hasty.

Now one of the fathers of the Internet, Vint Cerf, has said there's a chance the switch to the new system could cause several years of "instability" as each country takes its time to make the switch.

In a report by the BBC, Cerf admitted that the change "has to happen or the Internet will stop growing or will not be growable." as the IPv4 system only allows for about 4.3 billion addresses.

It's slow work though, search giant Google admitted it took three years to get its own IPv6 network online.  "The business community needs to understand that this is an infrastructure they are relying on and it needs to change for them to continue to grow and to rely on it," Mr Cerf said.

The puts the predicted instabilities down to the fact that the two systems are not compatible with one another and that, essentially, the whole world must be ready to make a simultaneous switch if problems are to be avoided.

Some countries including China have made great strides already in their infrastructure switch to IPv6 though some other countries have barely or even not started at all.  Currently only 1% of all Internet traffic is sent via IPv6 and time is running out to get the remaining 99% online.


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  1. turko said on November 12, 2010 at 8:44 am

    NAT anyone??? I’ll probably be retired before IPv6 is necessary!

    1. Minzt said on November 13, 2010 at 4:49 am

      OK but how old are you?

      1. turko said on November 13, 2010 at 7:50 pm

        Let me rephrase, most reading this will no longer be walking the earth.

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