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IPv6 has been ‘coming soon’ for long time. As every data packet sent over the internet contains two addresses (one from the sender and one for the receiver), it’s really not surprising that IPv4 addresses have run their course. Especially when you consider the number of internet connected devices in the average home.

The changeover in Internet Protocol to IPv6 will provide a much larger capacity of IP addresses, allowing a vast number of devices to be connected to the internet with the 128 bit address.

Commercial uptake of IPv6 has been relatively slow. UK ISPs BT and Sky are offering IPv6 connectivity, but there currently isn’t a business-grade IPv6 service available. Despite owning more than 20% of the market, Virgin Media has been slow on the uptake of IPv6. It is difficult for businesses to test IPv6 without a solid service from ISPs, so emulators and simulators are often used for testing.

Largest adopters
Google has found that 49 countries deliver more than 5% of traffic over IPv6, with new countries joining all the time. Only 24 countries have IPv6 traffic that exceeds 15%. India and the USA are the largest adopters of the technology, whilst the UK, France and Canada have some of the lowest uptake.

A lot of businesses are starting to future proof and adopt IPv6 addresses. Hyve are offering IPv6 and IPv4 connectivity to customers.

“Hyve has IPv6 connectivity enabled on our core routers in most of our sites and we are able to offer both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to our customers. A lot of businesses are future proofing and preparing for the changeover early, since not all applications and vendors fully support IPv6. It is better to do your research earlier and be prepared. According to Google statistics on IPv6 usage, nearly 25% of all Google users access their services via IPv6. We might be seeing a slow initial adoption of IPv6, but I'm suspecting that once we go over certain percentage the adoption will accelerate dramatically” - Andrius Ulenskas, Technical Director at Hyve Managed Hosting.  

Network address translation (NAT) has been used to extend the time that IPv4 addresses can be used, whilst IPv6 is still being adopted. NAT takes private IP addresses and turns them into public addresses. For example, with NAT, a corporate machine with a private IP address would be able to send and receive packets from machines outside their private network that have a public IP address.

NAT could be in the form of a firewall or router, and changes the source address of the packet to the public-facing address of the NAT device. Here a single, public IP address can represent multiple privately addressed computers. Without NAT, large businesses would consume lots of IP addresses for each connected device.

NAT provides a temporary solution for the lack of IPv4 addresses available for businesses, but it is definitely time for the UK to catch up with the rest of the world and start making IPv6 addresses readily available.

You can test to see if you are IPv6 compatible by checking your router and ISP via this tool, or contacting your ISP directly.

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