by Julie Bort
June 5, 2012
is the father of the Internet
- including the latest version.
In about five hours, the next version of the Internet will be switched on
Companies like Akamai, AT&T, Facebook, Google, and a long list of others
This new Internet is known as Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).
If all goes well (and it should) you won't notice anything different right
away. But over the next five years and beyond, IPv6 will have a profound
effect on our lives.
It is also a pretty big business opportunity for companies that sell network
equipment like Cisco, Infoblox, and lots of others.
We needed a new Internet because the old Internet was running out of IP
addresses. No new addresses meant no new smartphones, or data centers or Web
sites or home offices could come online.
There are still billions of people
in the world and tens of billions of gadgets, that need to join the
The new Internet is,
"trillions upon trillions of times larger"
than the old one,
says the grandfather of the Internet
Vint Cerf, Chief Internet Evangelist at Google.
But IPv6 doesn't work with the old Internet,
IPv4. (And yes, there was an IPv5, but it got scrapped for IPv6.)
The two Internets can't talk to each other.
Right now, everything still has an IPv4 address, often by sharing it
(because there aren't enough of them). Too many shared IPv4 addresses will
really mess things up, particularly high-speed realtime multiplayer games
and streaming video.
Soon, websites and devices will ONLY be on the new Internet. You won't be
able to connect to them unless your computer, network/home router, and ISP
are on IPv6, too. But you probably won't have to change anything, because
carrier-grade network-address translation,
or CGN, are helping bridge old and new.
Now here's the cool part. All of these new addresses mean that there is
virtually no limit on the kinds of things that we can add directly to the
Internet. Experts like Cerf predict this will create the "Internet of
things" where virtually everything we own has its own Internet address and
can can be controlled remotely with an app.
This includes your home appliances, keys, wine
cellar, the dog's collar - everything.
And it all begins at midnight, Greenwich Mean Time, June 6.