In January 2915, IPv6 turned 20, and the new statistics released by Google show that adoption of IPv6 among Google users has grown to over 10 percent, from being only 6 percent around December 2014 to 9.10 percent on December 26th 2015.
The graph below shows the growth rate over the last 20 years:
Google has been keeping tabs on IPv6 for a while, charting data (shown above) showing which countries are using it. More and more countries are showing up as using IPv6, and Belgium is leading the way with almost 44.32 percent IPv6 usage in the country. The US is a close second at 25.63 percent and other nations like Canada, those in Europe and Latin America is also beginning to use IPv6.
However, some countries are still not adopting IPv6, especially countries such as China and those in Africa: in these countries, Google’s analysis shows that IPv6 usage has a tendency to perform badly when attempted, and this usage is worse than that of IPv4.
Over the past four years, the deployment of IPv6 has increased by a factor of 2.5 each year, and from 0.4 percent at the end of 2011 to 1 percent in late 2012; there was then an increase of 2.5 percent in 2013 and 6 percent a year ago. As 4 percent increase in only one year is significant progress.
If the 67 percent increase per year worldwide continues every year, then by the summer of 2020, the whole world would have an IPv6, and this would mean an end to the problems caused by the diminishing of IPv4 addresses.
Why is the internet Running out of Room (IPv4 addresses?)
Each device connected to the web gets an IP address, similar to how every phone gets a telephone number, as the image above shows (via Google). Due to the nature of IPv4, there is a maximum limit to the number of IP addresses that can be issued, which is somewhere in the region of 4.3 billion. With the rise of smartphones, home broadband, internet of things, and, of course, websites, the number of IPv4 IP addresses is running out, as the image below shows (via Google):
In fact, the American Registry for internet Numbers ran out of IPv4 addresses on the 24th September 2015, so hosting companies are now using up old stocks or buying them on the aftermarket.
The Solution: IPv6
While IPv4 only allows 4.3 billion IP addresses, the new IPv6 protocol allows 340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 billion! More than enough, we think to last a very long time.
Why has the Uptake of IPv6 been so slow?
Though this news may make IPv6 seem brand-new, the reality is that IPv6 has been around for two decades — so it seems curious then, that the growth of IPv6 is being measured in single percentage points, while the Wi-Fi has grown exponentially since its inauguration in 1995.
For a visitor to see the content on a website, a lot of data must be transferred from one place to another. For the data to make sense to the receiver, various standards and protocols decide what each light pulse and voltage mean. Typically, though, when something is upgraded, only the two elements of this transfer need to be upgraded, the receiver and the sender: so the internet is upgraded one connection at a time.
However, the internet Protocol is different. The sending system needs to create an IP package, and then all the routers along the way (and any firewalls) need to look at the IP package to be able to send it on its way.
Also, the receiving system must be able to understand the IP package to understand the information it contains. The complexity of the internet means that all the clients, routers, and firewalls need to be upgraded.
This means that although all operating systems and almost all network equipment can support IPv6, if it’s still the case that there is even one device involved in the transfer of data that does not support IPv6, then the transfer cannot be completed.
This means that the increase in IPv6 usage found by Google is extremely promising: making more devices able to transfer data using IPv6, the easier the future looks for using the internet. So, the expansion of IPv6 as the internet Protocol celebrates its twentieth birthday is extremely optimistic.