25 May 2022 | 2 min read

Latest in the News: Are Internet Protocol Versions 4 and 6 Bound To Coexist? 

Internet Protocol versions 4 and 6 have been around since 1981 and 1995, respectively. Discover different perspectives of how these versions are viewed today.

IPv4 and IPv6 addresses around the internet globe.

Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn introduced the concept of the Internet Protocol (IP) in 1974 with A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication paper published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Many Internet Protocol versions emerged throughout the years, but only IPv4 and IPv6 stuck around. 

Although IPv6 should have replaced IPv4, this hasn’t happened yet. So, will we see the full adoption of IPv6 in our lifetime? How important is a dynamic IPv4 market? Do service providers need to be ready to support both Internet Protocol versions? Discover what’s the latest in the news.  

IPv6 adoption remains slow 

Ever since IPv6 was first introduced 25 years ago, the internet community expected it to replace IPv4. However, according to Geoff Huston, Chief Scientist at APNIC, there still is no clear consensus on the date when IPv6 could surpass IPv4. 

To date, only 32 countries have reached more than 30% of IPv6 adoption. According to Huston, sluggish adoption is due to ISPs (internet service providers) not offering IPv6. Moreover, the connected edge networks and their hosts are not supporting IPv6. Huston ponders whether full IPv6 adoption will be put on hold indefinitely.  

A dynamic IPv4 market is crucial for internet development in Africa 

Plans to expand the internet infrastructure in Africa are underway, but the fear is that the global exhaustion of IPv4 addresses could hinder the plans. Although wider IPv6 adoption could solve the problem, IPv6 systems are still rarely compatible with IPv4 systems because the transition is cumbersome, expensive and complex. 

The current internet penetration rate in Africa is 43%, and wider adoption of IPv6 is currently unlikely. Therefore, it is crucial to optimize the current IPv4 infrastructure. Developing a dynamic IPv4 market that is supported by IP leasing is vital in ensuring that resources are accessible to even the smallest businesses.  

Communications service providers need to support both IPv4 and IPv6 

In theory, IPv6 would solve the problems created by IPv4 exhaustion and increasing IPv4 prices. However, most organizations cannot justify the high costs and disruptions that come with a transition. Furthermore, customers’ devices might not be compatible with IPv6, and the time and money invested in a transition could be a waste.  

Ultimately, full IPv6 adoption requires synergy between every link in the chain. Because of that, 100% of IPv6 adoption is unlikely any time soon, and service providers must be ready to support both Internet Protocol versions for years to come.