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IPV6 - The Next Generation Internet

(Stanford University - Jaclyn Chen)


Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is the latest revision of the Internet Protocol (IP), the communications protocol that provides an identification and location system for computers on networks and routes traffic across the Internet. Every device on the Internet must be assigned an IP address in order to communicate with other devices. IPv6 contains addressing and control information to route packets for the Next Generation Internet (NGI).
IPv6 addresses the main problem of IPv4, that is, the exhaustion of addresses to connect computers or host in a packet-switched network. IPv6 has a very large address space and consists of 128 bits as compared to 32 bits in IPv4. Therefore, it is now possible to support  2128 unique IP addresses, a substantial increase in number of computers that can be addressed with the help of IPv6 addressing scheme. In addition, this addressing scheme will also eliminate the need of NAT (network address translation) that causes several networking problems (such as hiding multiple hosts behind pool of IP addresses) in end-to-end nature of the Internet.
IPv6 addresses include a scope field that identifies the type of application suitable for the address. IPv6 does not support broadcast addresses, but instead uses multicast addresses for broadcast. In addition, IPv6 defines a new type of address called anycast. The IPv6 protocol can handle packets more efficiently, improve performance and increase security. It enables internet service providers to reduce the size of their routing tables by making them more hierarchical. 
IPv6 builds upon the functionality and structure of IPv4 in the following ways: Provides a simplified and enhanced packet header to allow for more efficient routing; Improves support for mobile phones and other mobile computing devices; Enforces increased, mandatory data security through IPsec (which was originally designed for it); Provides more extensive quality-of-service (QoS) support.
IPV6 brings quality of service (QoS) that is required for several new applications such as IP telephony, video/audio, interactive games or ecommerce. Whereas IPv4 is a best effort service, IPv6 ensures QoS, a set of service requirements to deliver performance guarantee while transporting traffic over the network. For networking traffic, the quality refers to data loss, latency (jitter) or bandwidth. In order to implement QoS marking, IPv6 provides a traffic-class field (8 bits) in the IPv6 header. It also has a 20-bit flow label. This feature ensures transport layer connection survivability and allows a computer or a host to remain reachable regardless of its location in an IPv6 network and, in effect, ensures transport layer connection survivability. With the help of Mobile IPv6, even though the mobile node changes locations and addresses, the existing connections through which the mobile node is communicating are maintained. To accomplish this, connections to mobile nodes are made with a specific address that is always assigned to the mobile node, and through which the mobile node is always reachable. 

Other important features of IPv6: Stateless Auto-reconfiguration of Hosts (this feature allows IPv6 host to configure automatically when connected to a routed IPv6 network); Network-layer security (IPv6 implements network-layer encryption and authentication via IPsec).
Considering all these advantages of IPv6, it seems like the industry is taking a long time to migrate from IPv4 to IPv6. Part of the reason is that network address translation (NAT) helped delay the transition. NAT makes it possible to direct traffic to thousands and thousands of individual IP addresses on private networks through NAT gateways that each use up just one public IP address.
Most of the world “ran out” of new IPv4 addresses between 2011 and 2018 – but we won’t completely be out of them as IPv4 addresses get sold and re-used, and any leftover addresses will be used for IPv6 transitions. There’s no official switch-off date, so people shouldn’t be worried that their internet access will suddenly go away one day. As more networks transition, more content sites support IPv6 and more end users upgrade their equipment for IPv6 capabilities, the world will slowly move away from IPv4.


[More to come ...]




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