Every day more devices are connected to the Internet. Each of these devices, ranging from computers to home appliances, need an IP (initials for Internet Protocol) address to connect and function. When you connect to the Internet, your device is assigned a unique number, world wide, to identify it. All websites have an IP address too.
The addressing system that we are now using is called IPv4, and has been functioning for many years. You have probably never heard of it because it’s hard for people to remember such a large group of numbers. Instead, we memorize domain names. For example, it is easier to remember google.com instead of 188.8.131.52.
IPv4 vs. IPv6
The IPv4 has been the foundation of the Internet as we know it, and it establishes all the rules for computer networks. Although it has worked for years, the time has come to change IPv4 addresses to IPv6. The reason we have to replace IPv4 with IPv6 is that the World is running out of IPv4 numbers.
The IPv6 system provides an exponentially large number of addresses. It was created taking into consideration the rapid growth of the Internet. Addresses in IPv6 have a theoretical maximum of three hundred sextillions (3 followed by 38 zeros). It is such a large number that it is almost impossible to imagine.
A clearer comparison is in the total capacity of each addressing system:
- Total IPv4 capacity: 4,294,967,296 addresses.
- Total IPv6 capacity: 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 addresses.
What do I need to know about the change?
The change is safe and beneficial for users. IPv6 addresses have better security, are more efficient, and can be auto-configured. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) that designed the new protocol also considered possible growth, so this new system will work for a long time to come.
IPv6 addresses are coming soon. The Latin American and Caribbean Internet Address Registry (LACNIC), responsible for assigning numbers to the region, announced in August that it has granted the last available block of IPv4 addresses it had on reserve. During the last phase, which began in February 2017, they assigned more than 5.6 million IPv4 addresses.
This change will not affect users unless they are using very old equipment that does not support IPv6. Eventually, all institutions/users will have to make the transition to avoid connection failures, since the IPv4 and IPv6 versions are not compatible.
What is the situation in Guatemala?
Guatemala is already in the transition process and currently ranks 46th in the adoption of IPv6 in the world, with 12.7% of users in this system. There are currently two IPv6 providers in the country: Tigo Guatemala and Comunicaciones Metropolitanas Cablecolor. Considering the imminence of change, it is necessary to call on the country’s community and organizations to accelerate the deployment of IPv6 in their networks and accelerate the growth of the Internet.
To check if your computer and your connection are ready for the IPV6 protocol, you can test your connection here.