Why the New Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6)?
Most of today's Internet and our corporate networks use IPv4, which is now more than three decades old. IPv4 has been remarkably resilient in spite of its age. In the early seventies, when IPv4 was originally developed, the current size of the Internet was beyond imagination. It is remarkable that this protocol is still able to be the transport for the Internet. But it has been hitting its limits for some time. The most obvious limitation is the address space, which is short and will run out in the near future. We have helped ourselves by using IP address sharing techniques such as NAT (Network Address Translation), but this is not a good long-term solution. By using the IPv6 address space of 128 bits (compared to 32 bits with IPv4), the limit on addresses has been extended from a theoretical 4 billion to 340 billion billion billion billion (3.4 x 10^38) — 2^32 compared to 2^128).
But limited address space is not the only reason to move toward IPv6. The designers of IPv6 have learned from many years of using IPv4. They kept all the strengths of IPv4 and added a lot of functionality which will be needed in our future networks. In particular, the advanced auto-configuration features will allow businesses to deploy a great variety of new mobile, embedded network devices, RFID and sensors in a cost-effective, controlled manner. Interesting Mobility Enhancements will provide the foundation for new types of services now being developed.
IPv6 also adds many improvements to IPv4 in areas such as the security, mobility, quality of service, and scalability of the network architecture. IPv6 is therefore particularly suited for scalable and converged networks. A number of transition and coexistence mechanisms have been developed and are constantly improved in order to make the transition a smooth one. It is expected that IPv6 will gradually replace IPv4 over the coming years, with the two protocols coexisting for many years during a transition period.
Why the Luxembourg IPv6 Council?
Growth and innovation on the Internet depends on the continued availability of IP address space. The remaining pool of unallocated IPv4 address space is likely to be fully allocated within two to three years since only 560 million IP addresses, or 13% of the total space, are left to play with. IPv6 provides the necessary address space for future growth. We therefore need to facilitate the wider deployment of IPv6 addresses. While the existing IPv4 Internet will continue to function as it currently does, the deployment of IPv6 is necessary for the development of future IP networks.
The Luxembourg IPv6 Council has been established to support a smooth transition to IPv6 by consulting and advising all stakeholders with recommendations and roadmaps. This council will be made up of experts from industry, research, politics and administration in the IPv6 field with the clear mission to advocate IPv6 by improving technology, market, and deployment user and industry awareness of IPv6, creating a high-quality and secure new-generation Internet.