At Talk Internet we have always invested in our network to ensure we keep ahead of the competition. We implemented IPv6 across our network some months ago and other transit providers are now catching up. This may not seem to be an important development but the fact is, IPv4 is coming to the end of its life.
The problems with IPv4
IPv4 has been around since 1981. When it was originally designed it could not take into account that the Internet would become so prevalent and popular. The major drawback of IPv4 is the way that it designates network IDs. Internet backbone routers contain routing tables that have over 85,000 routes. These are a combination of flat and hierarchical routes. Whilst with IPv4 the job is getting done, the method of achieving it is not very efficient.
Security is also a major problem. Whilst there are many different ways of encrypting IPv4 traffic, all the methods are proprietary and no real standard encryption method exists.
The final problem stems from the bandwidth allocation required for real-time delivery of multi-media content. Whilst there is a recognised bandwidth allocation method called Quality of Service (QoS), there are a number of different interpretations ofthe QoS standards, meaning that not all QoS compliant devices can talk to each other.
The benefits of IPv6
IPv6 seeks to overcome these drawbacks with a number of improvements:
- New header format – The newly designed header in IPv6 is more efficient because it keeps overhead to a minimum.
- Efficient routing – IPv6 is designed so that Internet backbone routers will have much smaller routing tables than they do currently.
- Integrated security – IPSec is completely integrated into IPv6.
- Larger address space – IPv6 uses128 bit source and destination addresses – there are theoretically 3.4X1038 possible addresses that can be utilised by IPv6. This will overcome the current shortage of IP addresses under IPv4.
- Standardised QoS – IPv6 includes standardised support for QoS. QoS instructions are now included in the IPv6 packet header, ensuring that even if the packet body is encrypted, QoS can still function as,
- the packet header is not.
The expanded addressing capacity of IPv6 will enable the trillions of new Internet addresses needed to support connectivity for a huge range of smart devices such as phones, household appliances and vehicles. IPv6 also brings the enhanced quality of service that is required for applications such as IP telephony, video/audio, interactive games or e-commerce.