What would you do if you were told that the Internet was full?
Like most other Web users, you’d probably take that as a joke. The Internet can’t possibly fill up. It’s … well … it’s the Internet.
This isn’t a joke though. The Internet, in its current form, has almost reached capacity.
The Internet’s existing format, IPv4, has been in use since its inception in the 1970s. Under this version the amount of available Web addresses caps out at around 4.3 billion. We are rapidly closing in on that number.
To resolve this problem, major Internet players Google, Facebook and Yahoo, among hundreds of other Web content companies have banned together for World IPv6 Day, an international “test flight” of the new Web address format – IPv6.
IPv6 will offer 4 billion times more addresses than the old system, creating a nearly infinite number of possibilities. The continued growth of the Internet, as well as its convenience and affordability for users, developers and providers depends on the adoption of a more expansive IP system.
The goal of World IPv6 Day is to test the efficiency and workability of the new system under a controlled environment. It is also meant to encourage other industries across the Internet to prepare their operations for the new format.
While the transition to IPv6 is one of the most significant developments in the history of the Internet, if everything goes to plan, this event will go unnoticed by most Web users. Only a small fraction – less than half a percent – is expected to experience a temporary slowdown.
Working through any glitches is a necessary step to avoid the serious problems that could occur if we continue to operate on IPv4. The Internet would become slow and more expensive for both users and content providers. But how significant will those glitches actually be? We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out.