June 6 is many things: the anniversary of D-Day, the National Day of Running, and the anniversary of the opening of the first drive-in theater. It’s also World IPv6 Launch Day. IPv6 stands for Internet Protocol Version 6. That sounds highly technical, so let me break it down: today’s the day when all the Internet protocol (IP) addresses, which are used in all facets of the Internet, convert from 32 bit to 128 bit. This is so there are many more addresses for us all to use. We’re going from about 4.3 billion addresses, all of which are taken, to 3.4 x 1038 addresses.
What this means is that older browsers, network configurations, routers and systems may have issues today, especially in third-world countries. It takes a bit of preparedness to get ready for the rollout to IPv6, and there’s been a ton of advance notice … but it’s possible that some places are unwilling or unable to make the transition. That’s what World IPv6 Launch Day is all about … to increase awareness and get the world’s Internet providers to make the switch today.
Here’s a helpful chart from Google that explains this transition.
As far as you and me are concerned, it’s pretty likely your Internet service provider has already taken the necessary steps. You may not notice any downtime at all. But now there are millions more addresses to be used, so it should take quite awhile before these digits need to be expanded again.
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