IPv6, unlimited internet addresses

August 27, 2008

, NAIROBI August 11-With the increase in literacy levels across the world the internet is steadily being demystified.

Developed barely 20 years ago, the internet, which is simply a global network connecting millions of computers has experienced exponential growth, enabling people to communicate with their friends, business associates or even study via the internet.

These internet addresses are now the subject of the latest shift toward what is seen as a more advanced internet sphere version, called Internet Protocol (IP) from a lower version.

Capital Business spoke to Vincent Ngundi, an ICT (Information and Communications Technology) expert with Kenya’s internet address domain; .ke administrator, Kenya network Information Center (KENIC).

KENIC was established via a broad based consultative process of the "Local Internet Community" with an aim to institute a local non-profit organisation to manage and operate the .ke domain. This was an initial step to facilitate growth of the internet sub-sector and foster the uptake of ICT’s in the country through Public Private Partnership (PPP’s).
Ngundi defines Internet Protocol (IP) as “what uniquely identifies a device that is connected to a computer”.

In his words, it is simply an entry point into this wide network and likens it to a passport or an identification card with relation to one’s nationality.

He explains that the current ‘entry point identity’ in use –Internet Protocol version four (IPv4) was designed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in the early 90s with a view to sustaining a maximum of 4 billion addresses.

According to the expert, the four billion addresses are on the verge of exhaustion. This has necessitated the now indispensable inception of the new Internet Protocol version six (IPV6).

This new version has an infinite capacity which will be able to support “as many addresses as there are grains of sand on planet earth”.

He says the new version has such advantages as guaranteeing the connectivity, security, quality of service and doesn’t need mobility i.e. doesn’t require reconfigurations to suit particular equipment.

These, he says, would ensure ease of network management.

With such a necessity, a good migration plan is indispensable. According to Ngundi, this plan should ensure a smooth transition which may require a bit of streamlining, as some equipment older than five years may not be compatible with the new version.

 “The migration should not however be seen as the end of internet but a move towards a better domain with infinite capacity,” Ngundi said.

The good side to this story, he says, is the fact that this migration won’t be an immediate one.

In this regard, Ngundi says KENIC, in partnership with the Ministry of Information, has advanced awareness campaign plans for the public and stakeholders in the ICT industry on the imminent shift.

He says the company has set up an IPv6 Transition Taskforce to work on the migration modalities.

“I urge decision makers to begin planning for the transition,” he said.

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