Will new IPv6 devices drive 'New Internet'?

Will new IPv6 devices drive 'New Internet'?

The long, drawn-out transition to IP Version 6 got a boost from new portable devices at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Networked cameras, voice over IPv6 wireless phones and other new peripherals could drive the need for more addressable space.

Agencies will have little choice but to upgrade their networking infrastructures if they buy into IPv6-only product lines. So far, however, most are backward-compatible with IPv6's 24-year-old predecessor, IP Version 4.

Sony Corporation of America announced last week at the Consumer Electronics Show at CES that all of its products will be IPv6-enabled this year under the name 'New Internet.'

Nokia Americas demonstrated a dual IPv4/IPv6 wireless handset. And Pansonic Communications Company Ltd. showed off IPv6 webcams; it already sells an IPv6-ready color laser.

IPv6 got its start when the Internet Engineering Task Force predicted in 1994 that the 32-bit address fields under the Internet's TCP/IPv4 would be exhausted sometime before 2011.

But vendors and users have been slow to adopt IPv6's 128-bit address space; not until this decade did the majority of networking and operating system vendors support the protocol.

For example, Microsoft Corp. includes some IPv6 capability in Windows Server 2003 and XP, but these functions will not be turned on by default until the vendor's next OS, code-named Longhorn.

The General Services Administration noted in a 2004 white paper that agencies would experience substantial costs and trouble from phasing in IPv6, with little immediate benefit.

The Defense Department, however, has been mapping out a transition plan for IPv6 on its Global Information Grid by 2008 [see GCN story]. DOD's vision of network-centric enterprise services to the edge via the GIG have raised new security concerns about IP-controlled mobile and remote devices and weapons.

Cisco Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif., has estimated that Internet domains in the United States now control two-thirds of the existing IPv4 address space. China, the European Union, Japan and South Korea have moved far faster than the United States to adopt the new addressing system.

The IPv6 Forum has created an approved list of several dozen vendors and applications that can wear the 'IPv6 Ready' logo. Meanwhile, down the road could come controversial competing protocols IPv8 and IPv16.

But whether IPv6 peripherals speed up the U.S. transition or not, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers in July brought up an IPv6 name server within the root Domain Name System zone, saying the protocol 'provides trillions more addresses than the system in use by most networks today.'

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