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Killer app for IPv6? It’s the Internet.

I recently solicited comments on what the killer app might be that would drive demand for and adoption of IPv6, the next generation of Internet Protocols. From what the readers had to say, the killer app is the Internet itself. Despite the possibilities for improved functionality in the new protocols, the overriding reason for using them is simply to keep the Internet alive and well as the old address pool dries up.

With the current IPv4 infrastructure becoming increasingly fragmented and fragile, “the Future is IPv6, or no Internet,” one reader commented. “You choose.”

There were no examples offered of anyone actually using the capacity or capability of the protocols for anything innovative. The only reason for enabling them is that this is where future growth of the Internet must take place, and anyone who wants to remain accessible without living behind increasingly congested bottlenecks will have to accept IPv6 traffic.

Two readers offered examples of current applications that would benefit from eliminating the fragmentation caused by Network Address Translation, voice over IP and multicasting for delivery of radio and television over the Internet. Some current trends support these ideas.

The NPD Group recently announced that there are more than half-a-billion Internet-connected devices in the U.S. homes, an average of 5.7 per household. Since the beginning of 2013, the number of tablets in use grew by nearly 18 million and the number of smart phones by 9 million.

This growth in IP is occurring at the same time that reliance on traditional electronic media is shrinking. As early as 2010, the National Center for Health Statistics reported  that nearly 27 percent of American homes did not have traditional wireline telephones. And the Nielsen Co. estimated that the number of households in the United States with television dropped from 115.9 million in 2011 to 114.7 million in 2012. The drop started with the digital conversion of television in 2009. The poor economy and demographic shifts with more young people relying on Internet for entertainment also contributed to the decline.

It appears that for the near future, the primary job of IPv6 will be keeping the Internet robust enough to enable its continued expansion as communications, information and entertainment medium. But that does not mean that the new protocols will not be put to some interesting and innovative uses.

“The ‘Killer App’ is, first and foremost, the increased connectivity implicit in the larger address space,” one reader commented. “What comes from that increased connectivity is, well, up to you to decide!”

Posted by William Jackson on Mar 22, 2013 at 9:39 AM


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