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IPv6 Is Ready For Prime Time

Thursday, April 6, 2000

By Mo Krochmal, TechWeb

LOS ANGELES — The ideal of an IP address for everything is closer to reality, according to John Patrick, IBM’s in-house Internet visionary.

“It’s starting to happen,” Patrick said Wednesday at Internet World. “ISPs are getting requests for it and people are wanting it. Internet is high.”

The next generation IP, IPv6, expands the space used to create the groups of numbers that serve as house numbers on networks from 32 bits to 128 bits, allowing for enough number addresses to be created to blanket the earth. The specification was approved by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in 1997 but industry has been slow to adopt it.

Given the growth of the Internet, the need to have an end number address is becoming a barrier in an increasingly connected world where cell phones, Web TVs, and palmtop computers are expected to soon surpass a billion. All these devices will need an address on a network.

The IP address system is limited by its 32-bit size to a total of four billion addresses for the end spots on a network.

With the new system, every proton in the universe can get a permanent IP address, Patrick said.

This change is part of the next-generation Internet, a network with bigger pipes and new applications that will continue the revolutionary changes brought by today’s Internet. There is no delivery date set, Patrick said in delivering a keynote address at the show.

“Every day we get a step closer,” he said.

Patrick called for the creation of digital identifiers for everyone on the Internet, noting the irony that this would enable privacy and “real security,” he said.

“We need this so we can have authentication, authorization and confidentiality,” Patrick said. “It’s not something to fear, it’s something to embrace.”