Pv6 internet address system receives ‘test flight’

| 08/06/2011

(CNN): Today hundreds of Internet giants, including Google and Facebook, are participating in the first worldwide "test flight" of a major engineering upgrade to the Internet's infrastructure. Wednesday is World IPv6 Day, a clunky name for an experiment that should be invisible to Web surfers but plays a critical role in keeping the Internet running smoothly. One of the Net's foundational layers is the Internet Protocol, a global communications standard used for linking connected devices together. Every networked device you own — your PC, smartphone, laptop, tablet and other gizmos — has a unique IP address. The problem is that we're running out of them.

The current system, called IPv4, has the technical capacity to handle 4.3 billion addresses. They're almost all used up: The last remaining batch was assigned out in February. The solution is a next-generation protocol called IPv6. Just as the U.S. telephone system handled soaring growth by increasing the digits in each telephone number, the new IP system — under development for more than 12 years — uses longer addresses to fit more devices into the network.

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