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IPv4 depletion and the Move to IPv6

There are some major changes coming with the way Internet Protocol (IP) works with the growth of the Internet. IPv4 is near depletion and a new version, IPv6, will open up a large amount of new possible IP addresses. This transition requires investment on behalf of network infrastructure companies, such as Activo, to ensure that our clients are operating with the latest IP version.



Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4 or IP) was first developed in 1978 for the original internet. It was deployed globally alongside the growth of the internet with a total of four billion available IP addresses. It is used by every ISP and hosting company to connect customers to the internet.

The depletion situation report stated that the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA)’s free pool of IPv4 addresses has reached 0% as of February 2011.

Even though each Regional Internet Registry (RIR) has IPv4 addresses to allocate, it is still impossible to predict when the addresses will run out. Daily updates can be found at

The design of Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) was started in 1993 when the Internet Engineering Task Force (IEFT) showed that the previous version was going to be depleted between the years of 2010 and 2017. Testing of IPv6 completed in 1999, making the new version ready for use when needed.

The expansion will accommodate the increased number of devices and users on the Internet and will take away the difficulty of placing addresses, which will more efficiently route traffic.

IPv6 simplifies certain facets of address assignment, which was not a trait of IPv4. The IPv6 subnet size has been standardized and network security is integrated into the design architecture, including the option of IPsec.

Hosts and networks connecting to hosts need to deploy the IPv6 protocol in order to make use of the all the advantages offered in the newer version since IPv6 doesn’t offer an inter-operable feature with IPv4.


Where we are at with the transition today

There is still much uncertainty surrounding the final move to the new IP version, even though technology has been put into place in order to bridge the gap between the two versions. For example, web browsers such as Safari, Firefox and Google Chrome have implemented what is called “happy eyeballs” algorithm to ensure that the IPv6 will be tried first, however it will fail back to IPv4 very quickly if the IPv6 path is broken.

To further that, the MAC OSX operating system (and iOS devices) uses something more advanced that tracks websites and starts to prefer IPv6 or IPv4 depending on what has been loading faster recently.

As the urgency to make the switch rises, the date in which IPv4 becomes obsolete is approaching and recent information states that June 6th of this year will mark the launch of IPv6.


What Activo is doing to prepare you for IPv6

Activo has been upgrading our technology over the past year to begin our IPv6 rollout. Upgrades to our core equipment, consisting mainly of routers and switches, are viewed as investments in our infrastructure to ensure you avoid disruption during the transition from IPv4 to IPv6.

For more information about how this transition will impact you, please contact Activo Canada. You can also stay tuned for our next post where we will explain some of the necessary steps to get started with IPv6.

The time is now.

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