IPv6 Gets More Popular: IoT Needs New Addresses

Thursday, October 1, 2020 – 12:18 ksa

According to the predictions of experts, in the foreseeable future, tens of billions of IoT products will operate in the world. In the age of the emerging “Internet of computers,” the old IPv4-based addressing scheme that was more or less capable of delivering IP addresses to the “Internet of people” is virtually useless. IPv6, a new specification, aims to solve the problem.

4 billion is just a little

Created in 1981, the IPv4 protocol that has diligently supported the Internet has a 32-bit addressing scheme, enough to accommodate 4.3 billion network users. It once seems like, much like the legendary “640 kilobytes of memory,” this sum will be adequate for all and forever.

However, as the number of websites and internet users increased in the early 1990s, it became apparent that 4 billion would expire in the near future. The development of a new IPv6 protocol started at the same time. These problems have multiplied since the introduction of the Internet of Things idea in 1999. And if it was believed in 2000 that the “power” of IPv4 would be adequate for a few decades, then the opinion was already expressed in 2005 that there would be no more than 5.

The second prediction turned out to be closer to the truth: in 2011, the “stores” of broad blocks of regional registrar addresses started to run out. And in November 2019, RIPE NCC, an Internet registrar devoted to the distribution of Internet services and the organization of activities to facilitate the global operation of the Internet in Europe and the Middle East, declared that it had issued the last block of IPv4 addresses and that it will only continue to deal with returned addresses.

IPv4 has been expanded by Network Address Translation ( NAT) for a while. It helps you to translate private IP addresses to public IP addresses by allowing several computers with private IP addresses to share a single public IP address to save IPv4 addresses.

In order to achieve this, the corporate network installs a router or firewall that accepts NAT technologies and has a public IP address. It collects packets which are sent outside of the corporate network from private network addresses. The NAT device notes the source and destination address of the packet in the translation table, replaces it with its public IP address, and sends it to its destination. And upon receiving the reply packet, NAT translates the destination address into the private IP address of the computer that initiated the communication.

What does IPv6 give?

The Internet Engineering Task Force released the papers outlining the current Internet protocol back in the mid-90s, and on an continuing basis, the final implementation of the IPv6 protocol took place on June 6, 2012. Many corporations, such as Google-after 2008-started transitioning to it sooner.

The protocol got the number “6” since an ambitious real-time protocol, which never came out, was reserved for the name IPv5. But it did not vanish entirely-in the MLPS protocol, several of the ideas expressed in it can be found.

Thanks to the 128-bit addressing scheme embedded in IPv6, the number of available network addresses in it is 2 to the power of 128. This large address space makes NAT unnecessary (there are enough addresses for everyone) and simplifies data routing. For example, routers no longer have to fragment packets, it is now possible to forward large packets up to 4 GB in size. The checksum and so on are excluded from the IP header, so despite the larger IPv6 address size compared to IPv4 (16 bytes instead of 4), the packet header only doubled: from 20 to 40 bytes.

Implementation of IPv6. What is holding him back?

The IPv6 protocol, which coexists with its ancestor, the IPv4 protocol, is being steadily introduced in the networks of mobile operators as well as internet service providers in various countries eight years after its official introduction.

The new addressing scheme is used more actively by network carriers and internet service providers. For eg, T-Mobile USA uses IPv6 for almost 95 percent of its traffic, and Sprint Wireless for 89 percent, according to the industry group World IPv6 Launch. In other nations, there are fans of development-Indian Dependency Jio Infocomm (90%), Brazilian Claro Brasil (66%). Of the Russian operators, at 83rd position with 55%, MTS is the highest in the list.

According to Google, Belgium (52.3 percent), Germany (50 percent), India (47.8 percent), Greece (47.6 percent) are the leading countries in IPv6 penetration rankings. The United States has just 40.7%, less than, for instance, Vietnam (43.1%). Russia has little (5.6 percent) to brag about. However, China has a sum of 0.34 percent.

Dynamics of IPv6 availability for Google users

picture source: google analytiques 2020

The larger websites were found to be more conservative. Today, according to the Internet Society, just under 30% of the top 1,000 websites in the Alexa rankings are accessible via IPv6. Organizations are moving their websites even more slowly to the new protocol. And so far, very few companies use IPv6 in their own IT infrastructure. The explanation is quite simple: transferring a corporate network to a new protocol is a complicated, expensive and long process. And NAT technology, as already mentioned, extended the lifetime of IPv4.

When is IPv4 going to be “disabled”?

Officially, no one is likely to uninstall IPv4. The Dual Stack paradigm, in which IPv4 and IPv6 networks operate in parallel, was selected when the new protocol was introduced in June 2012. Between 2011 and 2018, new IPv4 addresses “stretched out” in most of the world, but today it is clear that those network addresses will be sold and replicated for quite some time.

As the number of transfers to the new protocol grows, however, it can be anticipated that operators and ISPs will begin charging companies for IPv4 addresses when IPv6 becomes accessible. Probably only in the next generation of networks can any resources become available. On IPv6, IoT networks will run. And, with IPv4 equipment’s natural obsolescence (and little new will be released), the world will gradually move away from IPv4.